Those of us on this side of the Irish Sea have looked on with a wry smile at the sudden discovery by many in Britain that the Democratic Unionist Party is ant-women and anti-gay.
Well no shit Sherlock!
It has also been pointed out that it is many other things as well. So let’s hear it all from the horse’s mouth:
Edwin Poots MLA on creationism –
“My view on the earth is that it’s a young earth. My view is [it was created in] 4000 BC.”
Edwin Poots MLA on the occasion of Arlene Foster becoming leader of the DUP –
“Her most important job is wife, mother and daughter.”
Ian Paisley Jr MP On LGBT people –
“I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong. I think that those people harm themselves and – without caring about it – harm society. That doesn’t mean to say that I hate them – I mean, I hate what they do.”
Peter Robinson MP, ex-leader of the DUP and First Minister of N. Ireland –
“It wasn’t Iris Robinson [his wife] who determined that homosexuality was an abomination, it was the Almighty.”
Iris Robinson former DUP MP –
“There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children. I cannot think of anything more sickening than a child being abused. It is comparable to the act of homosexuality. I think they are all comparable. I feel totally repulsed by both.”
Peter Robinson MP, ex-leader of the DUP and First Minister of N. Ireland on Muslims –
“I’ll be quite honest, I wouldn’t trust them in terms of those who have been involved in terrorist activities. I wouldn’t trust them if they are devoted to Sharia Law. I wouldn’t trust them for spiritual guidance. Would I trust them to go down to the shops for me, yes I would, would I trust them to do day-to-day activities… there is no reason why you wouldn’t….Why are you so concerned about Muslims and not poor people like me.”
And let us not forget, this Party doesn’t primarily exist to bash gays or women or Muslims, its prime raison d’être is to secure and promote sectarian rights against Catholics, but how often is that getting a mention?
What matters here is not just the justified opposition of many in Britain that they will be governed at the whim of the DUP but that the participation of the DUP in government in the North of Ireland is otherwise upheld as a heroic success, to be celebrated, re-packaged and sold around the world wherever there is unfortunate conflict. One only has to recall the eulogies to the sectarian monster Ian Paisley, who created this band of bigots, to marvel at British liberal opinion that now recoils at their contamination by political Neanderthals who don’t believe in the existence of the real ones. The DUP don’t suddenly become arch-bigots when they get off the plane at Heathrow.
Does it not therefore cause some to stop and consider just what type of political slum it is that has been created by partition that sees the DUP in Government in Belfast as the solution? Just what on earth is the question that makes this shower the answer? And is it not therefore the case that, just as blame for the tragedy at Grenfell Tower must be laid at the door of the landlord and all those who allowed it happen and who created the conditions for it to happen, so must the blame for the rotten state of the North of Ireland also lie at the door of the landlord?
I’ll give just three examples of how rotten this state is, all taken from one single issue of the local ‘Irish News’ published on Saturday:
- The loyalist paramilitary group the UDA has been blamed for stealing thousands of wooden pallets that were being stored by Belfast City Council, fearing that it might not get access to their use for the annual bonfires, after the council came under pressure to explain why it was storing them for the annual bigot-fest. Among the pallets were those stolen from a logistics firm, meaning the Council could be accused of handling stolen goods. How handy then that they have been stolen again!
- Loyalist paramilitary flags have been placed in a mixed religion housing development, specially created to be free of all sectarianism. Some people have complained about this but recently elected local DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly, who had received the public endorsement during the election of loyalist paramilitary groups the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando, has said that she has spoken to 100 households in the development and most don’t want to create “a fuss”. Good of her to check up on them. I’m sure her paramilitary backers will be pleased that their decorations should not cause a fuss.
- Loyalist paramilitary Gary Haggarty, who worked as a police informer, pleaded guilty to 200 terrorist charges including 5 counts of murder, 5 of attempted murder, four counts of kidnap, six counts of false imprisonment, six of hijacking etc. etc. but is expected to be released from custody in September. Although Haggarty has pointed to two police special branch officers who worked with him, no one expects any case against them to go anywhere, mainly because no one expects a case.
So why should the DUP supporting the Tories in London be worse than their being in office in Belfast?
The deal to get their support for Theresa May’s battered caravan sets out their support for Brexit and for all major Tory legislation. It promises £1 billion of extra money for the North of Ireland, sparking outrage from other parts of the UK, although this will hardly solve the pressing problems that this part of Ireland suffers from. Half of it will cover the cost of the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal, in which the DUP created a scheme to allow participants, disproportionately it would appear rural supporters of the DUP, to burn wooden pellets and get £1.60 for every £1 spent!
The health service in the North of Ireland has a deficit of perhaps £400 million so the £350m in the deal for health, £50m of which is also to cover education, £10m of which is spread over 5 years, while the balance is spread over 2 years, will hardly be a solution. The deal talks of hastening devolution of corporation tax, so it can be cut, and of ‘Enterprise Zones’ that promise (threaten?) even further corporate largesse. VAT and Air Passenger Duty is also mentioned but it is likely they will await the first crisis and any updating of the deal before they are implemented.
Much has been made of the deal threatening the peace process and Good Friday Agreement, but only the nodding heads of the chattering classes believes the British Government is neutral between those supporting its rule in Ireland and those claiming to oppose it. However, this doesn’t mean that the deal has no potential political repercussions.
Much trumpeted is the extension of the Armed Forces Covenant. This will involve priority in housing allocation and health provision to previous members of the British Armed Forces, which presumably includes the now disbanded Ulster Defence Regiment, sometimes referred to as Ulster’s Disreputable Rogues, and a glaring example of putting guns into the hands of loyalists legally.
It illustrates the criminal stupidity and mendacity of the Tory Party that allocation of public services could be carried out on grounds other than need, in a way that will disproportionately benefit one religious section of the population, those having once served in the UDR for example being only 3% Catholic. Even those with a cursory familiarity with Irish history will know that the outbreak of civil disobedience in the 1960s was sparked by opposition to sectarian allocation of housing
In 1968 a Nationalist MP at Stormont, and two local men occupied a house in Caledon, County Tyrone, in protest over the allocation of the house by the local council to a nineteen-year-old unmarried Protestant, who was the secretary of a local unionist politician, while a Catholic family with three young children had recently been evicted from the house next door.
Some innocents have asked why Sinn Fein is not being asked to take its seats in Westminster to reduce this DUP leverage. Jeremy Corbyn smiled purposely to Andrew Marr when he was asked about this question on Marr’s TV show, referring knowingly to “Irish history.” On ‘The Guardian’ web site there is a video of Owen Jones and Frankie Boyle laughing at the very idea that Sinn Fein would break its abstentionism at Westminster in order to do some good.
No, Sinn Fein and its shibboleths, venerated by Irish history, itself a history of righteousness, cannot be called to account for its primitive and reactionary policy because a certain respect must be given to obscurantist nationalist positions, rather like exaggerated respect must be given to nonsense if it is spouted as part of a religion.
Sinn Fein would rather break its abstentionism in relation to the Dail, “the worst parliament in the developed world”, as one commentator recently put it, whose practices were almost considered similar to “anthropological studies” involving “quaint tribal practices” to which OECD observers were “unable entirely to conceal their bafflement and revulsion . . . a scarcely contained incredulity.”
Sinn Fein is also gagging to re-take its place at Stormont, that parliament on the hill, symbolic of decades of sectarian gerrymandering and discrimination, which these days now requires participants’ designation as Orange or Green in order to have the fullest powers to pass or stymie legislation. What sort of principle lies behind abstentionism, that allows one to enter coalition with the DUP in a sectarian Assembly but forbids putting in peril the rotten lash-up of the DUP with the Tories? It’s hardly a hypocrisy too far.
How ironic that Sinn Fein lambasted non-attendance at Westminster in its election propaganda.
Rather than laugh knowingly Sinn Fein should be excoriated for its reactionary stance.
Nothing in this rotten marriage of convenience bodes well for the future. It is therefore fervently to be hoped that the divorce comes very, very soon.