Socialist Worker

Crisis intensifies within the DUP

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2760

Unionist Edwin Poots (left) requests a new leadership contest following just three weeks as leader.

Unionist Edwin Poots (left) requests a new leadership contest following just three weeks as leader. (Pic: William Cherry/Presseye/Flickr)


The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is about to select its third leader this year. Which is a lot for a party ­steadfastly against change.

The DUP is in a mess as former leader Arlene Foster resigned after an internal heave against her. Then her successor, Edwin Poots, ­followed suit after just three weeks in the position.

It was prompted by his decision to press ahead with reconstituting the Stormont Northern Ireland assembly executive alongside Sinn Fein.

A significant majority of his MPs and MLAs were vociferously opposed to the move.

The most likely successor is now Jeffrey Donaldson. He has ­promised to quit as a Westminster MP to return to the assembly and take up the role of first minister.

DUP haters gonna hate
DUP haters gonna hate
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The specific cause for bother was supposedly an Irish Language Act.

Opposition to giving rights to people to speak Irish was what saw the DUP bring the executive down last time. And the prospect of it coming back did for Poots.

The DUP’s Sammy Wilson ­shamefully refers to Irish as a ­“leprechaun language”.

The current—but not for long first minister—Paul Givan when he was DUP communities minister slashed funding for the Irish ­language in 2016.

It was a rather blatant attempt to distract from a scandal where businesses could earn more money the more fuel they burned.

The ongoing and persistent nature of the crisis at Stormont is rooted in its creation. The Good Friday peace settlement is not designed to resolve issues but to manage them.

Whenever the Unionists are caught with their hands in the till they play the sectarian card.

It is no coincidence that an organisation founded on religious bigotry moves even further right while pouring fuel on real fires of sectarianism.

Nonetheless everyone is keen to implement the agreements and get the local parliament running again.

Northern Ireland—the impact of imperialism and sectarianism today
Northern Ireland—the impact of imperialism and sectarianism today
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However as always, Britain has made things worse.

The Northern Ireland Protocol was a last minute compromise to get Brexit through. It effectively creates a trade border down the Irish Sea.

But it allows free trade between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

This is an ideological threat to Unionism but one they are unable to deal with. They are pulled between a determination to whip up sectarianism to hold onto their shaky political base and the need to be in charge of the union.

The Loyalist Communities Council, an umbrella group for Loyalist paramilitary groups, issued a statement on Friday that urged the DUP to end “concessions” to Sinn Fein.

More electoral minded ­reactionaries in Traditional Unionist Voice are trying to mobilise to ­capitalise on the DUP’s divisions.

There is potential for ­violent political rhetoric turning to reality as the crisis ridden unionists battle it out.


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