DUP struggling in the senior leagues

Posted By: August 02, 2017

Distributed by Irish National Caucus

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, August 2, 2017

When the DUP were negotiating their dirty deal with Theresa May’s wing of the Conservative party in June, Slugger O’Toole’s inventor Mick Fealty reminded them what the late Seamus Brennan said to the Greens when they were negotiating a coalition with Fianna Fáil in 2007. “You’re playing senior hurling now, lads.”

Boy, don’t the DUP know that now. Simon Coveney may not have formally presented a proposal for a Border in the Irish Sea,  but make no mistake that’s one of the options being considered in what Michel Barnier called a ‘high-level political dialogue’ between his deputy Sabine Weyand and Britain’s top official in the Brexit negotiations, Olly Robbins.

This unexpected consequence of their support for the minority Conservative government (as well as free abortions for women from The North in Britain) has driven the two amigos, Deputy Dawds and his sidekick Corporal  [Jeffrey ] Donaldson frantic. They are both in deep denial, as usual viewing the world through the wrong end of a Unionist telescope.

Donaldson has become a self-appointed overnight expert in electronic borders. He imagines the Irish government is going to fund sophisticated cameras tracking cross border vehicles when the Taoiseach and Coveney have both said they won’t pay for a British designed border. Donaldson even resorted to producing incorrect trade figures to support his case. He told the BBC’s Today programme 64 per cent of Irish exports go to the UK. In fact it’s 12.8 per cent but then you can tell the Today program anything about Ireland.

Both Deputy Dawds and his Corporal ignore the reality that Britain and the EU are currently trying to produce a political solution to the border problem first, and then work out the technical details, not the other way round. That’s what Barnier has made clear and that’s what Varadkar repeated.

In all this the DUP are small fry. Remember lads, what happened in 1985 and 1997. If you can be bought, you can be sold and you will be. Your deal runs out at the latest in May 2019 if May lasts that long.

The Conservatives hate being in cahoots with you and they despise you. You don’t need to be reminded what Crispin Blunt MP thinks about you, do you? The British press stand ready to devour you. ‘Coalition of Crackpots’ is the mildest headline. For Nationalists the daft DUP are the gift that keeps on giving now that they’re exposed to public gaze.

All great fun but there’s a very serious side to the present chaos. That’s extreme polarization in Northern society. The Brexit vote exemplified it. Figures produced by  Prof John Tonge of Liverpool University show the extent of it. 89 per cent of nationalists voted remain versus 35 per cent of unionists. 86 per cent of Sinn Féin voters voted remain versus 30 per cent of DUP voters. Translated into religious denominations 85 per cent of Catholics voted remain versus 41 per cent of Protestants.

You don’t have to be reminded of the recent elections. Huge increases for both DUP and Sinn Féin. SDLP and UUP crushed. The Alliance party irrelevant. Ninety per cent of the population correctly don’t vote for them. After 47 years they’re a failed concept. Nationalists have rejected Westminster opting for abstention.

In this context the Conservative-DUP pact is very dangerous. Nationalists overwhelmingly supported Sinn Féin’s withdrawal from the Assembly and Executive because the DUP had engaged in fake power-sharing. As often, Arlene Foster blurted out the truth when she said she was there to stop ‘rogues and renegades’ getting anything. The DUP, always opposed to the Good Friday Agreement, by 2016 weren’t even pretending to work it.

In the last seven years a series of weak proconsuls [Secretaries of State] devoid of political substance, heft or visible ability has caused a profound loss of confidence among the nationalist community. The close association of Conservative politicians with the DUP during those years, the blithe ignoring of the interests of the Nationalist community has upset the delicate equilibrium the Good Friday Agreement established.

On top of this failure by the British government came the catastrophe of Brexit which, as the figures above demonstrate, intensified polarization.

At least this new Irish cabinet has woken up to the dangers.