Have the DUP feinted? – by Michael Lagan

It really came as no surprise that the DUP and Unionism had a problem with the NI Protocol, in fact they told us so before the last election.  The DUP outright said it would have serious implications for the power-sharing institutions if it remained in its current form and now we see they were right.  However, they are right only because Unionism and by extension, the DUP self-fulfilled that prophecy and set in motion those ‘serious implications’ while all but denying that they are the problem.  They claim they have a mandate to not take their seats in the Executive but the big question is, do they have the mandate to hold all of us back in a bid to kill off something which is actually helping businesses and employment in this country?


I say “country” because to date the trade being done between the North and South of this country, this island of Ireland is soaring, quite literally growing week on week which in turn leads to growth, jobs, and better and more employment opportunities.  So what really is the DUP’s issue with the Protocol? Long story short, contrary to what it claimed initially, it has nothing to do with the loss of jobs or the price of going to the shops or sausages or even going to the chippy.  For the DUP and Unionism, it is all about the constitutional implications.  It really has nothing to do with GB being “our biggest market” or that it costs more to do this or that.  For Unionism it’s all about the beginning of the end of Ireland, any part of Ireland being in the United Kingdom, not that it’s very united at all.

That mandate Unionism claims to have not to take its seats in the Executive and the claims by Unionist Ministers, mostly DUP, that the Assembly can still function without the DUP to do the cross-community ‘cross-cutting’ part of their pretty essential jobs fell apart today when a senior NIO Permanent Secretary, Neil Gibson was appointed to take control of the Norths finances so that monies could be made available that were not able to be allocated because of the DUP’s inability to take their seats because of a mandate of a minority.  But is the Protocol issue really the entire reason the DUP will not take their seats? Or is there something more sinister in these ‘guerilla tactics’ being employed by the DUP?

The DUP with Jeffery Donaldson at the helm look like they have backed themselves into a corner on the issue of the Protocol and in reality, they have…to an extent.  What if their insistence on not taking their seats in Stormont was a feint, a political ruse of sorts?  They seem hardline to hardline Unionists again, holding the line, not an inch…that is until the Secretary of State is forced to dissolve the Executive in October.  That stance of ‘not an inch’ may win them back a lot of support from those hardline Loyalists and Unionists who left to stand with Jim Allister in the past election.  With Allister’s harder-line stance not translating into the numbers he predicted from the last elections and seeing the efforts of the DUP and the influence they have had on the Protocol Bill, it may be enough to draw those who have strayed back into the DUP fold to vote for them.

So is the DUP’s real reason for sitting out of the Executive a more sectarian move than they may care to admit? Is their Protocol stance really a cover for ‘not having a taig about the place’ in regard to the First Minister’s post? Having read a piece by a respected female journalist a month or so ago claiming that a Unionist source within Stormont stated the Nationalist First Minister issue was more than half the problem for the DUP.  Would Jeffrey Donaldson survive if he went back into Stormont now to sit as Deputy First Minister?  Make no mistake, Unionism, never mind simply the DUP do not know how to deal with a Nationalist being First Minister.  As the Pollster said at the last election, and I’m paraphrasing here –  ‘Northern Ireland was designed in such a way that this would never happen. Northern Ireland was designed to always have a Unionist majority’.

The Protocol issue gives the DUP the perfect cover to sit out of the Executive while a Nationalist is First Minister, at least until October.  That’s not to say that the Protocol isn’t an issue for Unionism – it is.  However, supporting the contravention of international law while using the North as a pawn to put pressure on the EU to capitulate to the UK demands is not the way to go.  Ironically both the UK government and the DUP are showing that they are happy to put us through pain and dark days to pressure the EU into giving the UK government exactly what it wants and all for a small minority of Unionists in a statelet that actually voted to remain in the EU.

The danger for all those other parties who actually want to get to work for all our people on this island is that they will split an already split vote and that Unionists will coalesce around the DUP giving the North, once again a Unionist majority vote which will make the DUP the largest party removing the historical moment when a Nationalist became First Minister of a statelet that was designed never to allow that to happen and with both prospective British Prime Ministers claiming they will enact the Protocol Bill if they are elected…we are in for a rough ride as the bill will damage our dual access entitlement under the terms of the Ni Protocol. The question for the DUP and Unionism is….Will the next Prime Minister really enact the UK Protocol Bill or are Truss and Sunak playing games of their own behind the backs of the DUP and Northern Irish Unionism?  All British Prime Ministers have stabbed Northern Irish Unionism in the back before.  I guess only time will tell but something tells me Unionism may quickly find Carson’s words coming back to haunt them once again.

One Response to Have the DUP feinted? – by Michael Lagan

  1. Kieran McCarthy August 27, 2022 at 7:14 am #

    On the Button!