Saving “Private Robinson”?

Posted By: August 27, 2013


Note : Speculation continues about the future of First Minister Peter Robinson. John Coulter throws in his two cents — while giving insights into what makes the DUP tick.

Castle Catholics must save Robbo

John Coulter, Irish Daily Star( Dublin) MONDAY, AUGUST  26, 2013

Calling all Castle Catholics … we need you to mobilise to save Emperor Robbo from the DUP fundamentalist chop.

Nationalists – and especially Shinners – should not gloat at the clearly looming coup which will see Robbo endure the same fate as his predecessor, Big Ian, as First Minister.

The DUP grassroots are making a stern choice – save the party by moving to the Unionist Right, or secure the peace process and risk the same poll meltdown as the rival UUP.

In one of his most liberal speeches at a party conference, Robbo said that more Catholic Unionists – the so-called Castle Catholics – and Garden Centre Papists (well off middle class Catholics) would vote for and even join the modernising DUP.

If Robbo is to survive in the long-term, that is well beyond next year’s Euro and shadow super council polls, he needs the Castle Catholics to support him in their tens of thousands.

Nationalists need to know that the DUP is a political movement which puts party before people. Like the Communist ethos, it is the party which must come first.

Robbo has been a life-long DUP stalwart, but that counts for nothing if the party’s ‘Men in Black suits’ decide he is of no further use.

Look at the fate of the party’s founder Ian Paisley senior. He built his movement from an anti-O’Neill protest party in the late 1960s to the lead voice of Unionism by 2003.

As First Minister, Paisley presided over the North’s longest period of stable devolved government since the original Stormont Parliament was axed in 1972.

But the DUP’s once-dominant fundamentalist faction decided that the Chuckle Brothers routine with Shinner deputy Marty McGuinness was ‘supping soup with the devil’ and Big Ian had to be chopped.

Three clear factions are vying for control of the DUP and it’s important for nationalism and the Stormont Executive’s stability that Robbo’s modernising clique wins.

If Enterprise Minister and UUP defector Arlene Foster wins, it will be business as usual for the Executive.

But the party will drift to the Centre Right if former finance minister Sammy Wilson clinches the leadership reigns in a bid to woo back the tens of thousands of working class loyalist voters who have ditched the DUP.

The real strain will come on the peace process if the traditional fundamentalists snatch the top DUP with East Derry MP Gregory Campbell.

That will see the DUP lurch radically to the Unionist Right-wing and will pressurise the Executive to breaking point. Remember, the DUP is a political beast which would rather see party unity than a stable peace process.

Policy-wise, Robbo’s 2013 DUP is a mirror image of Davy Trimble’s 2003 UUP. With Arlene as DUP boss, and fellow UUP defector wee Jeffrey Donaldson as her closest advisor, the basis is set for a DUP/UUP merger.

For the first time ever, the DUP’s rock-solid draconian internal discipline is starting to crack. Behind the scenes, no matter what the media spin, these three factions will lock horns. So expect the winning clique to purge the party of the other two.

Castle Catholics need to ensure that a brand of moderate Unionism occupies the Executive which can work competently with the Shinners.

The DUP may ditch Robbo, but Castle Catholics must – for the sake of the peace process – never abandon the liberal Unionist movement he developed at Stormont.

Do Castle Catholics really want Unionism to be represented by flag-campaigning hardliners, Orange parade fanatics, or anti-Catholic Bible-thumpers?

Perhaps a post-Robbo DUP is beyond redemption. If that is indeed the case, Castle Catholics must save the Executive by piling into Mike Nesbitt’s UUP or Basil McCrea’s NI21.