Robinson’s brinkmanship finally went over the brink

Posted By: September 12, 2015

THE IRISH NEWS – Saturday 12 September 2015
Newton Emerson. Irish News ( Belfast). Saturday, September 12, 2015

Peter Robinson is all tactics and no strategy, which is how his brinkmanship ended up going over the brink.

Each step the DUP leader took during the past two weeks to triangulate himself between the UUP and Sinn Féin made sense on its own but taken together they carried him too far. Naturally, the master tactician had packed a parachute, in the form of a resignation that turned into seven days notice of a resignation with a non-resigning colleague minding his seat.

But as he stood before the media in Stormont’s Great Hall and pulled the rip-cord on this life or death contrivance, its canopy seemed to open and immediately transform into an enormous pair of comedy bloomers. Tactically, he should still land in one piece. Strategically, no-one will ever take his threats to jump seriously again.


IN his penultimate step up to the cliff edge, Peter Robinson responded to a UUP boycott of the talks with a DUP boycott of the executive to concentrate on the talks. Announcing this on Monday, he also warned of further developments in the murder of Kevin McGuigan.

After Wednesday’s arrest of three ‘senior republicans’, including Sinn Féin northern chair Bobby Storey, Robinson tweeted this was what he had “predicted”. He then called for the assembly to adjourn – his last step before the fateful demand for suspension – while chiding the UUP for not supporting adjournment the week before.

So how had the DUP leader planned ahead with such detail and laid a trap for the UUP with such confidence, given that a police tip-off would have been most inappropriate? Martin McGuinness’s reaction to the arrests was merely to say he was “surprised”, which was itself surprising, given that Robinson was not surprised. Or perhaps none of this is surprising in the slightest.


With even Sinn Féin declining to blame securocrats, shadowy forces, enemies of the peace process and so on we may put another paranoid notion to rest.

The DUP cannot have been trying to adjourn or suspend Stormont to stop the finance committee’s inquiry into the Nama allegations. Assembly committees are not affected by adjournment and can continue during suspension, which the Sinn Féin chair of the finance committee would certainly have sought to do in that unlikely eventuality. If Peter Robinson had hopes of denying a Stormont platform to anyone, it was Mike Nesbitt in the assembly chamber….