RTÉ correspondent Tommie Gorman’s report on the Brexit agreement suggests the DUP must feel like someone who has been jilted at a disco. Tommie Gorman writes:
If we are honest, we all experience the feeling at some stage in our lives. And it is an awful gunk. You go to a disco or function with someone. Things seem to be going swimmingly. But then they disappear out a side door with somebody else and you are left high and dry. Early this morning the DUP learned a horrible lesson about Boris Johnson. The aftershock is too raw at the moment from them to understand this as a case of “tough love”. What they have discovered to their cost is that Boris is promiscuous, politically.
The image brought a smile but is too benign to capture a sense of the malevolence of the DUP.
Never a political party with a recognisable place in the normal political spectrum, the DUP thrived on a cocktail of opportunist populism and plain old-fashioned sectarian bigotry. The reinvention of long-time party leader Ian Paisley as the chuckling companion of former IRA member Martin McGuiness was a wilful overlooking of the past misdeeds of both men.
Paisley was a demagogue who incited violence, anyone who would suggest otherwise should read the words of his sermons calling down wrath on anyone who did not share his narrow and prejudiced set of views.
The DUP was Paisley’s instrument for promoting his theological views in the political sphere. The DUP were against anything that suggested Northern Ireland might become a society comparable with the rest of the United Kingdom. The DUP liked British money but not British values.
Ian Paisley opposed the legalisation of homosexually in Northern Ireland in the 1980s and his party continued in that tradition of obstructionism towards every possible progressive reform. Only next week will Northern Ireland finally have laws on same sex marriage and abortion rights that are comparable with those in the rest of the United Kingdom, and that because the legislation was passed at Westminster. The DUP vehemently oppose the reforms.
The 2017 British general election saw Theresa May break with the bi-partisan approach towards Northern Ireland adopted by successive British governments and strike a supply and confidence agreement with the DUP. It was a deal that granted undue influence to a party with a deep rooted history of intolerance and homophobia. The relationship has now turned sour as Boris Johnson now proposes drawing the border down through the North Channel, detaching Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.
The demographic structure of Northern Ireland suggests that the days of unionism were already numbered, Boris Johnson, formerly the very best friend of the DUP, may be about to end the union much sooner than anyone could possibly have imagined.