The British Are Offended By The DUP Anti-Abortion Stance. But Not By Its Sectarianism

It seems that the steady normalisation of the Democratic Unionist Party in the mainstream of British politics has come to yet another juddering halt, as politicians and journalists in Britain are confronted once again by the group’s fundamentalist origins and beliefs. In the wake of Ireland’s historic referendum vote to remove a controversial anti-choice amendment from the constitution, with the promise of abortion legislation to follow, pressure has piled on the DUP to drop its opposition to the provision of similar services in the United Kingdom’s legacy territory in the north-east of the island. So far, the ultra-right party has set its face against any move by the authorities in London to expand UK-wide abortion laws to the contested region. Consequently prime minister Theresa May and the ruling Conservative Party, whose minority government is reliant on Democratic Unionist votes in parliament to stay in office, has declined to confront the serried ranks of reactionary pro-union opinion in the Six Counties. A body which extends far beyond the Arlene Foster led party.

However, putting the issue of abortion – or even equal marriage – to one side, several other questions arise in relation to the attempted mainstreaming of the Democratic Unionists in Britain. In any civilized society one would have thought that the continuing willingness of the DUP to act as the de facto political wing of various pro-British or loyalist terror gangs in the north of Ireland would have disqualified it from a place in conventional UK politics. Let alone giving it privileged access to the levers of power in Number 10 Downing Street through a grubby, post-election backdoor deal with the Tories in 2017. But far from it, as we know.

While the press in London is focused on the rights of women, the DUP is giving cover to those organised militants from its own community who wish to carve up parts of Belfast into new ethno-national zones. This can be seen in the latest decision by loyalist groups to “only” fly specified British flags in mixed unionist and nationalist neighbourhoods of the city at certain times of the year. The DUP has claimed credit for this “agreement”, where former or current gunmen have agreed with themselves how they should behave, regardless of the wishes of local residents.

For a pro-life party the Democratic Unionists seem remarkably happy to speak on behalf of the still extant merchants of death in the Six Counties who give loyalty to the United Kingdom. And the news media and political establishment in the UK seems remarkably sanguine about this relationship. However, when the liberal touchstone issues of the average Briton are dismissed out of hand by the DUP, it’s then that the British throw up their hands in horror. It’s hard to know which is the more hypocritical.

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11 comments

  1. Noises off say there there were elements within the Tory party who, knowing the DUP’s tendencies, wanted no truck or agreement with them at any cost.

    1. I heard much the same. And they may be among the 140 MPs who signed up to the cross-party demand for action on abortion. But at the end of the day, the Tories did a deal with the DUP, giving the party unprecedented access to UK government. As the repeated failures in the Brexit negotiations have proven. Who calls the shots in the UK? 10 Downing Street or 91 Dundela Avenue?

  2. Abortion is the one subject many Catholics and Protestants in the north agree upon both sides tend to be more extreme and fundamentalist than those in the south and obviously those in the UK.
    The big problem for the Stormont, ahem, govt is Sinn Fein’s ridiculous, hypocritical and sectarian attitude to the Irish language and that wont change regardless of anything the UK or Stormont do about abortion law

    1. Pippakin:
      The Irish Language Act in the North is supported by the Government of Ireland and the SDLP, among many others.

      Try to read a book sometime.

      1. So what? Naturally the Irish language would be supported by the Irish govt and Irish nationalist and republicans, what’s that got to do with it? Bringing the Irish language into schools is one thing and should happen in every school as should Ulster Scots etc but bringing the Irish language into govt, civil and public service and the NHS etc would mean the loss of thousands of jobs and would cause an immediate long lasting imbalance, few if any Unionists speak and write Irish well enough to translate from English, nor do most northern republicans Introducing the Irish language would cause anger, resentment and that would be just the start. If you think of the times the Irish govt and judiciary have used the Irish language to refuse British arrest warrants its easy to see the mountain IRA Sinn Fein are trying to build and for what, Gerry Adams legacy? Its pointless and stupid and if it must be done it must wait until the Irish language is fully understood by the majority of people in the north

  3. Unionist and British hypocrisy is nothing new,what was it the journalist Susan Mckay said, “you can be thrown out of the orange order for marrying a catholic but not for murdering one”.

  4. Fancy going to this university…

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