The DUP are responsible for more than we give them credit for


The intractable issue of the Brexit negotiations, that of the Irish border, would not be an issue at all were it not for a small group of parliamentary bigots, hypocrites, and obstructionists: the Democratic Unionist Party.  It’s really that simple.  If the DUP were out of the picture, the people of Northern Ireland could have what they voted for in the referendum and stay in the customs union and single market.  Having lost the Tories their majority in the last General Election, however, Theresa May is now reliant on this group of Ulster extremists to prop up a Conservative Party on the brink of implosion.  


It’s become patently clear that no Tory involved in the Brexit negotiations seems to have a clue what they’re doing, not least when it comes to the issue of the border in Ireland.  Theresa May’s near public breakdown in Salzburg was a lesson in what happens when you listen to ideologically driven harebrained schemes involving lasers and mobile phones from delusional Northern Ireland unionists like David Trimble instead of looking reality in the face: either Northern Ireland stays in the Customs Union, or the UK does.  


That’s the EU’s position.  That’s their red line. 27 nation states with the Internationally ratified Good Friday Agreement at their backs versus a British Prime Minister pulling a face that seemed to indicate that she hadn’t realized that that position was non-negotiable.  Split from Europe, you split up the union.  That is if she wants to be in bed with the DUP who point blank refuse to allow Northern Ireland to differ in any way from Britain anymore than it already does because they like to pretend they’re not Irish and when Britain makes different rules for Northern Ireland, it ruins it.  Of course, were Labour in Government there would be no need to entertain political blackmail by any such bunch of odious Ulster weirdos.


This isn’t the first time the Tories have been held to ransom by a band of unionist bigots.  John Major’s government were prevented from making progress during the Northern Ireland peace negotiations in the 90s due to intransigence when it came to not talking to “terrorists”, needlessly prolonging a conflict that both sides were eager to resolve.  The hypocrisy of this position beggars belief: one has only to watch the footage of the DUP’s founder, the reverend Ian Paisley, at a rally of 15,000 of his men, The Third Force, a militia of masked men, marching through the streets of 1970s Newtonards, with Paisley saying they would attack the British security services if they had to.


Who even are they?


After last year’s general election lots of English friends, many of whom were either too young or too far removed from the troubles to remember people like Paisley, asked me what the DUP was.  They seemed to have come out of nowhere and were now exercising a modicum of control over their lives.  It’s worth being reminded every once in a while who the DUP are:  probably the oddest mainstream party in Europe.  Ever since their formation in 1971 as the political off-shoot of Paisley’s own cult-like Free Presbyterian Church, an evangelical Christian sect characterized by a rabid hatred of Roman Catholics, their only positive contribution to British and Irish politics was when Paisley finally agreed to sit in government with Martin McGuinness under the power-sharing arrangement set out in the Good Friday Agreement.  This was despite the DUP being the only party in Northern Ireland to oppose the GFA.  In every other way they have consistently been a force of negativity: the party of “No”, “Not an inch”, “Never”.


It is hard to imagine a group anywhere in the world with such a virulent hatred of Catholics: the KKK wouldn’t even come a close second(again see the you tube footage of Paisley being thrown out of the European Parliament during the Pope’s address shouting “Whore of Babylon” at him).  They are basically a version of those weird American Christian evangelists with all the associated wacky beliefs about the LGBT community, women, and Jews killing Christ, except with Irish accents.  Even their name – Democratic Unionist Party- carries a hypocrisy based on defending the position of a state within the United Kingdom that was created by denying the democratic wishes of the people of Ireland their right to self-determination.  The DUP have forever seen it as their duty to defend the rights of the Protestant community, whose supremacy the state of Northern Ireland was set up to ensure, against Catholic the demands of Catholics not to be second class citizens, because any step in the direction of equality, is a step towards a united Ireland.  In other words, they exist to obstruct progress, which they have always euphemistically referred to as “maintaining the union”.


Loyalist paramilitaries have often sited Paisley’s fire and brimstone sermons as the impetus to go out and murder Catholics.  Many have often spoken of feeling betrayed when Paisley would then distance himself from their actions.  One of the most outspoken critics of DUP hypocrisy was former Loyalist leader David Irvine, who upon his release from prison was an active player in the peace process, and universally respected by politicians and combatants on all sides.  The DUP have never had such a figure, just an endless succession of bigots, religious fundamentalists, and former security forces members skilled at condoning sectarian violence through the art of the dog whistle, whilst condemning it enough to stay on the right side of the law.


No Government in Northern Ireland


Martin McGuinness, shortly prior to his death, refused to serve as Deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly alongside First Minister Irene Foster, Paisley’s successor, and stood down in protest.  Northern Ireland has now spent longer without a government than any nation in Europe.  Arlene Foster blames this on Sinn Fein.  The DUP has always blamed just about everything on Sinn Fein.  The mainstream British media, true to form, parrots this line.  What is always missing from the conversation is context.  Sinn Fein was not the only party in Stormont to refuse to be in government with the DUP, every single party in the Northern Ireland Assembly refused to be in government with the DUP.  Why?  Because of an ongoing dispute over an energy scheme set up by the DUP where it appears that party members and their families have defrauded the people of Northern Ireland to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds.  The investigation is ongoing, but what has already emerged sounds damning regarding Foster.  That’s why there’s no government in Northern Ireland.


For men and women of God, they like dicing with fraud


This incident doesn’t seem to have occurred in isolation.  Remember the DUP spent £282,000 on a pro-Brexit advert in the London Metro, even though the paper isn’t published in Northern Ireland.  This was seven times their expenditure during the 2015 General Election.  What’s more they refused to reveal the identities of the donors who gave them £425,000 during the Brexit campaign (under Northern Irish law they are not obliged to).  Then, after the General Election the Electoral Commission decided not to investigate the DUP over claims it co-ordinated its Brexit referendum campaign spending with Vote Leave in order to break legal spending limits.  Could this have been part of the deal that also saw them get a bung of £1 Billion from Theresa May?  I wonder.


Northern Ireland, like the Railways, the Welfare State, Schools, Prisons, and the NHS, has suffered under the Tories.  Progress is being undone as stasis sets in as it always does when we have a Tory government, partisan and in hock to Unionists.  A Labour government is the only chance we have of prying loose the grip that the DUP has on our democracy, and sending the most nefarious political party on these Islands, once again howling back to their sectarian echo chamber, cursing gays, Sinn Fein, Jeremy Corbyn, and the Pope.


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