formation of a power-sharing Executive at Stormont
will be decided solely by which of the three factions
within Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party is
in control of the party by the 24 November deadline.
35 years ago in 1971, Paisley has remained the undisputed
DUP leader and has built his movement during this
political generation into the leading voice for
Northern unionism, eclipsing both Bill Craig's Vanguard
Unionists and David Trimble's Ulster Unionists.
secret of its success electorally is that Paisley
gave a voice to two very muted sections of Northern
society the religious fundamentalist Right-wing,
and the Protestant working and lower middle classes.
primary Paisleyite strategy has always been party
unity before progress. From a couple of Protestant
Unionist MPs in the original Stormont Parliament
axed in March 1972, the DUP has now passed the UUP
representation in Westminster, Europe, the Northern
Assembly and local government.
only a matter of weeks to go to the summer recess,
Paisley is firmly in control of his party and barring
a sudden collapse in the 80-year-old leader's health,
a political coup may be the only option if the North
is to witness the creation of a DUP/Sinn Fein government
the party, three clearly defined factions have emerged,
but it is in the 32-strong Assembly group the internal
divisions can be identified. This observation is
strengthened in that all nine DUP Westminster MPs
are also MLAs.
three factions have been dubbed the modernisers,
fundamentalists and the ultras, but at this precise
point in time the dynamic driving the party is not
controlling fundamentalist faction has been trying
to convince members of the other two groupings that
all the party's gains have been achieved by purely
targeting the UUP in elections.
fundamentalists believe if the party remains united,
it can finally finish off Reg Empey's UUP in an
expected Assembly election next May.
modernisers want to create an Executive with Sinn
Fein because they fear failure on 24 November will
see Stormont permanently scrapped and joint authority
between London and Dublin imposed on the North.
so-called ultras representing traditional
hardline, Right-wing unionist opinion does
not want to deal with republicans within the Assembly
and is more akin to a new millennium version of
the highly successful Vanguard Movement of the mid
a situation where either the fundamentalists or
modernisers form an Executive with SF, the ultras
would most likely split from the DUP to form a New
Vanguard Party, which would probably enjoy considerable
grassroots support in rural traditional unionist
areas, especially in Co Antrim.
the existing 32 DUP MLAs, 16 could be considered
modernisers, 12 in the fundamentalist camp with
four ultras. However, given the amount of negotiations
and political bartering which will be taking place
in the next six months to November, you could see
some 'side switching' among the factions.
senior is the fundamentalist champion, and key members
in his clique would be his son, Ian Junior from
North Antrim; Paul Girvan from neighbouring South
Antrim; Independent Orange Order Grand Master George
Dawson from East Antrim; former Lord's Day Observance
Society spokesman Nelson McCausland from North Belfast;
Gospel singers David Simpson from Upper Bann
the man who toppled Trimble, and Free Presbyterian
cleric Rev Willy McCrea from Mid Ulster, who is
also South Antrim MP.
fundamentalist clique is also boosted by husband
and wife team of Nigel and Diane Dodds from North
and West Belfast respectively. Their ranks could
be helped if Independent Unionist and himself
a former Gospel singer Paul Berry from Newry
and Armagh was allowed back in the DUP ranks
in spite of high profile allegations about his private
would give the fundamentalists 13 three short
of the estimated modernising faction's tally of
16 MLAs, headed by another husband and wife team
of deputy leader Peter Robinson from East Belfast
and his wife, Iris, from Strangford.
leading MLAs perceived to be in the modernising
wing are former Carrickfergus mayor David Hilditch
from East Antrim; Lagan Valley dissident duo defectors
Jeffrey Donaldson and Norah Beare; Foyle's William
Hay; former Belfast Lord Mayor Sammy Wilson, now
in East Antrim, along with two other UUP defectors
Peter Weir in North Down, and Arlene Foster
in Fermanagh/ South Tyrone.
Jim Allister is being viewed as the ultras' champion
should the party enter an Executive. If there was
no Executive by November, the four ultra MLAs would
most likely join up with the 12 fundamentalists
plus Berry to outgun the modernisers by a single
impressive European election victory has given Allister
considerable clout and respect among traditional
rank and file rural unionists, concerned the DUP
may give away too many concessions to SF in the
formation of an Executive.
could view the need to establish a new Right-wing
party because it could be perceived the DUP had
adopted the power-sharing policies of Trimble's
hot tip for deputy leader of the ultras would be
popular North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey. Such is
his grassroots support, it has been mooted he could
even challenge Ian Junior for the Westminster nomination
when Paisley senior retires as MP.
the ultras emerge as a significant grassroots movement
in the next 12 months, his popularity would make
Storey a prime candidate to dump out fundamentalist
Dawson as Independent Orange boss.
leading ultra contenders also enjoy tremendous rank
and file support in their respective constituencies
Wilson Clyde in South Antrim; East Derry's
Gregory Campbell, and West Tyrone's Thomas Buchanan.
ultra camp would also be helped if vehemently anti-Agreement
QC, North Down's Robert McCartney of the fringe
United Kingdom Unionist Party teamed up with Allister,
also an eminent QC.
can be no doubting an Allister-Storey-McCartney
coalition could be an electoral dream team ticket
for thousands of disillusioned unionists concerned
about what further political ground unionism
and particular the DUP - would have to conceded
to maintain a power-sharing Executive.
key questions will also decide which of the DUP
factions emerges as top dog on November 24:
of the three camps:
12 MLAs headed by Ian Paisley senior; joined
by Paul Girvan, Ian Paisley junior, George Dawson,
Nelson McCausland, Edwin Poots (Lagan Valley), Stephen
Moutray (Upper Bann), Maurice Morrow (Fermanagh/South
Tyrone), Nigel Dodds, William McCrea, David Simpson,
and Diane Dodds. Paul Berry would give them 13.
16 MLAs headed by Peter Robinson; joined
by George Robinson (East Derry), Alex Easton (North
Down), David Hilditch, Jim Shannon (Strangford),
Mark Robinson (South Belfast), Robin Newton (East
Belfast), George Ennis (Strangford), Norah Beare,
William Hay, Iris Robinson, Jeffrey Donaldson, Sammy
Wilson, Jim Wells (South Down), Peter Weir and Arlene
with the UUP Assembly Group of 24 UUP and David
Ervine of the PUP, a United Unionist Coaliition
could have at least 41 MLAs enough to break
through the required parallel consent level of 50
per cent of unionist designated MLAs.
four MLAs and one MEP headed by Jim Allister;
joined by Wilson Clyde, Mervyn Storey, Gregory Campbell
and Thomas Buchanan. Along with Robert McCartney,
this 'Gang of Six' has the makings of a traditional
grassroots Right-wing New Vanguard Party.