boss Ian Paisley has warned there may not be movement
on devolution for up to two years, whilst his deputy
pours cold water on the notion of speaking rights
in the Dail for Northern MPs and MEPs.
these statements be dismissed as the DUP shooting
from the lip again with its usual negative rhetoric,
or could we actually read something more constructive
in terms of a change of political direction?
reality, given the concessions to republicans following
the IRA's 'dump arms' statement in July, the DUP
needs a carrot to lure it, not a stick to beat it
back into legislative government in the North.
why wait until January and the re-emergence of the
November 2004 deal between the Paisleyites and Sinn
Fein? Why not make Ian Paisley Secretary of State
in the Northern Ireland Office with Mark Durkan
as his deputy?
it became unionism's leading voice, the Paisley
party has always been wary of upsetting its volatile
religious fundamentalist hardliners. It's all right
to speak at community festivals in predominantly
nationalist areas of the North and the Republic,
but not to TDs in Leinster House.
it will have to do some very clever tip-toeing and
side-stepping if the fundamentalists are not to
take the hump over talks with Catholic Church leaders.
DUP's modernising spin doctors can sell these supposed
talks with the Catholic Church hierarchy as part
of a ploy to use Archbishop Sean Brady to put more
pressure on the Sinn Fein to disband the Provos.
it seems the DUP now has a Plan B should the fundamentalists
refuse to give their blessing to any proposed deal
with the republican movement which would see a legislative
Assembly returned to Stormont with Big Ian safely
installed as First Minister.
it was formed in 1971, the DUP has always been a
devolutionist party, with a 'bring back Stormont'
mentality. Direct Rule from Westminster, or talk
of an Ulster Unionist-style integrationist policy
were largely viewed as political boogie men by Paisleyism.
now the DUP also has an ace card which it previously
never owned in the political pack - a significantly
increased Westminster team with the possibility
of two more seats in another four years' time if
there are agreed DUP candidates in South Belfast
and Fermanagh South Tyrone.
Paisleyites also want their fair share of peers
in the House of Lords. A Blair Government may continue
to staff the NIO with mainland Labour MPs whilst
Paisley is still DUP boss.
if the Assembly collapses permanently beyond mere
suspension, a Gordon Brown Government may well be
tempted to staff the NIO with Ulster MPs from the
DUP and SDLP.
is assuming the DUP cannot move ahead with Sinn
Fein because of the issue of IRA decommissioning
and criminality. Indeed, with such a commanding
lead over the UUP in the Commons, the DUP will be
sorely tempted to take the Ulster Unionists' former
1980s policy and call for its MPs to be installed
as NIO Ministers.
in this scenario, Sinn Fein could toss a spanner
in the works by deciding to take the oath of allegiance
and its Westminster seats. Martin McGuinness may
well become education minister again, not in a Stormont
Executive, but as an NIO minister with portfolio.
whether the DUP is in government at Stormont or
through the NIO, the Ulster Unionists must still
become the voice of radical opposition, holding
the Paisleyites to account on their decisions.
Radical Right UUP will have to remain there until
the passing of Paisley senior when the dogfight
for his successor begins.
his powerful persona, Paisley has managed to keep
the rival wings of his party in toe. Without his
physical presence, however, the modernisers who
want to cut a deal with Sinn Fein, will go head-to-head
with the religious fundamentalists who traditionally
view the Pope as being part of the empire of the
some point, a post Paisley DUP will split, with
the outcome likely to be the fundamentalists forming
their own version of the Protestant Reformation
Party. At this point, the Ulster Unionists must
be prepared to form a pact with the DUP modernisers
to fend off the influence of the fundamentalists.
the UUP will have to formally merge with the DUP
to form one organisation, known simply as The Unionist
is in the immediate post Paisley era that Ulster
Unionism's liberal wing will come to the fore as
a vital tool in the negotiations to merge the two