Arlene and the question with the scary answer

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For better or worse, the DUP electoral campaign has been built around Arlene Foster. When you have posters that say ‘Keep Arlene our First Minister’ or words to that effect, and when you have party political broadcasts showing Arlene as a teenager talking about an explosion on her school bus or reminiscing about her father over family photographs, you’d have to be very very dim not to see that, despite Arlene’s protestations, she’s the lynchpin of the whole DUP campaign.

Will it work? Probably. But a better question is not will it, but why? Why have the DUP decided to make ‘Arlene for First Minister’ such a big part of their campaign? That’s easy. Because she’s not Martin McGuinness. If Arlene isn’t kept as ‘our First Minister’, then that would mean Martin McGuinness as ‘our First Minister’. And that, the unionist electorate are being told, would be an appalling vista.

What are Arlene’s reasons for wanting to stay First Minister? Well naturally she wants to come out on top. In the News Letter and on a television interview recently, she’s made noises about wanting to have the DUP the biggest party because then they have first pick from the Ministers bag. But while that’d be nice, it isn’t exactly something that has caught the unionist or nationalist imagination. No, the key thing is not Ministerial portfolios – the key thing is not allowing McGuinness to emerge as top dog.

And in that News Letter interview, the present First Minister has ratcheted things up considerably with her response to another question. Would she serve as Deputy First Minister if Sinn Féin were to emerge as the largest party- or even as joint First Minister, as McGuinness has said he would push for in such circumstances? The answer to that is…silence. An ominous silence. A depressing silence.

Because there are those who believe that unionism is OK with democracy as long as it allows them to win. But when it emerges that they lose …Well, that’s an appalling vista. A vista informed by 1912, when unionism made it clear it would not accept the will of either the Irish or the British people that Home Rule should be granted. Are unionists – is the First Minister – saying that in the event of the DUP not receiving enough votes to be top party, that they’d…Resign? Boycott the Assembly? Resort to other than political means to achieve their end?

If there was a journalist worth his or her monthly pay-packet, s/he would press very hard for an answer to that question. And if there was a democrat in the ranks of unionism, s/he would be insisting that the leader of unionism should accept the verdict of the ballot box. No ifs or buts or scary silences.




11 Responses to Arlene and the question with the scary answer

  1. navanman May 1, 2016 at 3:42 pm #

    If as you say the DUP strategy is working, why is there not a rallying call of “Martin McGuiness for first minister”. The Nationalist side need something to get them back voting to their potential. Maybe the kick start and the bit of momentum they need. Too late now but maybe a missed opportunity.

    • billy May 1, 2016 at 6:39 pm #

      something to get them back voting…
      vote for what,another 20yrs of the same nonsense,
      voting only encourages these peoples thoughts of self importance,
      if the turnout is low imo they should call a vote yes or no to close it up.

  2. Iolar May 1, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

    Legacy issues and the sound of silence

    It is said that Theresa May’s statement in the House of Commons reduced some MPs to tears. In relation to the events in Hillsborough in 1989, Ms May stated:

    “No-one should have to fight year after year, decade after decade, in search of the truth.”

    Perhaps Eoghan Harris did not hear or read her statement, neither is he happy about being ‘silenced’ by RTÉ or Archbishop Martin’s homily at Arbour Hill. According to Mr Harris,

    “…He also passed up the opportunity to turn Pearse’s noble anguish into a parable against the propagandists of physical force nationalism…”

    We seldom hear clarion calls against the propagandists of physical force imperialism either. More scary silences.

    In TV3’s ‘Trial of the Century’, Judge Bonham makes it clear:

    “The British Army is not on trial…”

    Nach mór an trua é! On the 26th of July 1914 a unit of the Kings Own Scottish Borders opened fire on an unarmed group of Dublin civilians at Bachelors Walk killing four and wounding thirty seven. No member of the British army was ever brought to court-martial over the shootings.

    In the week that followed the Easter Rising, General Lowe had ordered that,

    “…no hesitation was to be shown in dealing with these rebels; that by their actions they had placed themselves outside the law and that they were not be made prisoners.”

    It was civilians who took the brunt of the consequences of his order. Troops from the South Staffordshire Regiment broke into homes and shot or bayoneted 15 civilians. They killed three men at 170 North Kings Street whose dead bodies were found to have bayonet wounds, then broke into number 172 and killed two men. In number 174 two more were shot dead. Two more civilian men were killed at number 177 and in 27 North King Street another four men, who all worked there at the Louth Dairy were found dead in a basement and one more man was killed at number 91. The fifteenth James Moore was shot dead on adjoining Little Britain Street.

    On 10th May 1916, bodies were found buried in a cellar, when a boy saw blood on barrels. It was the discovery of two bodies in the cellar that prompted an inquest, in which the jury found that the two:
    “…had died from shock and haemorrhage, resulting from bullet wounds inflicted by a soldier or soldiers in whose custody they were an unarmed prisoners”

    Colonel Taylor, who had been in command that day told the court:

    “No persons were attacked by the troops other than those who were assisting the rebels or who had arms in their possession.”

    The Coroner’s Court refused to accept Colonel Taylor’s statement as accurate.

    Fast forward to 2016, it is said, Theresa May’s voice cracked with emotion as she read out the verdicts of a jury one by one, to a hushed House of Commons.

    “The search to get to the truth of what happened on that day has been long and arduous…families have faced hostility and obfuscation. And the authorities that should have been trusted have laid blame and tried to protect themselves instead of acting in the public interest…But the families have never faltered in their pursuit of the truth. Thanks to their actions they have brought about a proper re-investigation and a thorough re-evaluation of what happened at Hillsborough…”

    If there was a journalist worth his or her monthly pay-packet, s/he would press very hard for answers in order to bring about a proper re-investigation and a thorough re-evaluation of events in Ireland, given the loss of life and destruction in a state once described as being, “ as British as Finchley.”

  3. MT May 1, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

    Before St Andrews the legislation provided for the nominee of the largest party of the largest destination to be First Minister. At St Andrews the DUP got the legislation changed so that it was so my the nominee of the largest party. This was a cynical move to allow it to remain as top unionist party by playing the First Minister card to inhibit voters from switching to UUP for fear of letting the Provos become.the largest party.

    Why are no journalists challenging the DUP about their cynical move in 2006. Even the UUP isn’t mentioning it.

  4. Sherdy May 1, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

    Arlene’s battle cry is: Vote for me – I’m a victim’!
    Since being elected DUP boss she’s been telling us on a virtual daily basis of her travails as a teenager – as though no one else in this God-forsaken place suffered in any way.
    We in Northern Ireland have now an army of professional victims, whose views on any subject under the sun, are published and broadcast, as though they had a better insight on our problems than the rest of us who aren’t forever jumping in front of a microphone or a camera.
    But to electioneer on that basis shows a sickness in the mind, and that is a very good reason for putting your vote elsewhere!

  5. Ciarán May 1, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

    How can we even equate democracy with unionism? It is not in their ethos. Democracy as long as it suits them, otherwise we’ll have to look at other ways of keeping the croppy down. Civil and religious liberties? Yeah, but only if you’re of protestant descent. No, Arlene may claim to be democratic but my dog could see through her. Given half a chance unionism would revert to type and gerrymander, discriminate and triumphalise all over again. Apocalyptic 17th century end of days claptrap! Nooooooo not the demon republican as first minister of our northern orange utopia!!!! Awful what these so called politicians get away with in this backwater. Rant over……..

  6. Ryan May 1, 2016 at 7:08 pm #

    Jude, I think the DUP are trying to achieve 3 things here:

    1. Maintain the impression that Unionism, specifically the DUP, are in charge in Stormont. The term “First Minister and Deputy First Minister” fools a lot of Unionists into believing that Martin McGuinness has less powers than Arlene and Arlene is “over him”. Martins title as “Deputy” suggests that also. The reality is the First Minister has absolutely no more power than the Deputy, both cant sign a letter without the consent of the other.

    2. The Fear Factor. The DUP are using the same old tactics of “Vote for us or you’ll let them’uns in!”. This tactic is mainly being used to combat the UUP, who just 2 years ago looked as dead as Fianna Fail was but ironically has been given a new lease of life thanks to the pact they did with the DUP in last years British General Election. Martin McGuinness is being used as the bogey man to instil the fear into the Unionist electorate.

    3. Girl Power: The DUP are also playing on the fact that Arlene is the first woman First Minister, so showing her face repeatedly and having their campaign focus on her might encourage women to come together and vote for her. Of course if a male First Minister did this with men that wouldn’t be “Man Power” but “Misogyny”.

    So if the Unionist nightmare were to come true, would the DUP stay in a Government with a Sinn Fein First Minister? Well they would have no choice. The only way that could be stopped would be if the DUP and UUP merge into one party and I wouldn’t rule that out. It would be a big psychological blow to Unionism if SF were to be First Minister, there would also be a lot of bitter infighting amongst Unionism if it were to happen, hence why I believe if SF were to continue getting bigger and attains the First Minister role then I see a lot of votes going from the DUP/UUP to TUV. I think Jim Allister will have company in the Assembly after next week.

    When asked on the Nolan TV show would she accept a United Ireland if the majority vote for it, Arlene replied “Of course, I’m a democrat”. Its surprising Arlene wont answer the question on if she would accept Martin McGuinness as First Minister but I think the reason she wont answer that is because she fears if she said she would then it would lose her votes from more hard line Unionists….

    • billy May 1, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

      ministers first or deputy first whatever you want to call them hold office the brits hold the power .james connolly called it ruling by fooling.

  7. Paul Gerald May 2, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

    In reference to victims as usual in this place there seems to be a hierarchy of victimhood, i would be classified as a victim of the ‘IRA’ due to the fact me family home was flattened along with other homes and business in a local town when i was 3 and had to be evacuated and heard the bomb which ended up causing no small amount of problems down the years and to this day, but ye know what i recognise that it wasnt the fault of the people who planted the bomb, they were as much victims to the corrupt system as much as i or any other person was and continue to be so, i can understand voter apathy to a point because in these time of instant gratification people what results for action they take, but to some of these people i point out that a generation ago Arlenes forefathers were beating our own of the streets for the simple basic human rights being demanded of a vote and a right to housing, if she was upsurped by Martin for the post there would be some crying done by the so called
    ‘defenders of democracy’

    • billy May 2, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

      lots of people not voting were on the marches its not just younger voters.

  8. Perkin Warbeck May 2, 2016 at 1:49 pm #

    Just as the,erm, D in Django is silent one cannot help wondering, Esteemed Blogmeister, if the D in Darlene is also silent ?

    One poses the question on reading the latest excursion into the vote-gathering neighbourhood of Victimhood by Darlene, oops, Arlene Foster.

    For the more she excurshes in her own distinctive look-at-gushy-me as a mere weeny teeny hardly- old –enough- for- a- bikini victim of the meanies and other local would-be benito mussolinis the more she comes to resemble the utterly delightful Darlene Edwards.

    Darlene it was who formed one part of the Jonathan and Darlene Edwards musical comedy duo back in the Fabulous Fifties: he on piano, she on the pipes . Their schtick was their comical takes off in off-key arrangements of classic and contemporary songs alike.

    In reality they were the real-life husband and wife team of gifted musicians, bandleader Paul Weston and Jo Stafford. It was rumoured that Jo of the God-given vocals was actually human but the general consensus nowadays is that Jo Stafford, who could only ever sing a bum note if she was paid, was really an angel in disguise.

    And has since gone back to the skies where she only ever truly belonged as an in-key member of the celestial choir.

    She also sang comical solo as Cinderella G. Stump and her biggest hit in that role was, of course, her hillybilly parody on the Arthur Freed song:


    It may not be altogether irrelevant either, that since Darlene Foster is currently orating and emoting like good-oh on the electioneering stump that the, erm, tim-tay-shun to play the popular and darlin’ of the southern media-friendly victim card is well nigh irrestish.

    What next ?

    As the U, one understands, in DUP stands for Ulster, a triumphant recording, perhaps, by the territorial Darlene Foster, of:

    -U belongs to me ?