Not everyone who votes for the DUP dresses up in KKK clothing and poses with clenched fists outside an Islamic Prayer Centre. But everyone who dresses up in KKK clothing and poses with clenched fists outside an Islamic Prayer Centre probably votes for the DUP. That is the main thing to bear in mind following the weekend appearance of men garbed as members of the Ku Klux Klan, the pariah white-nationalist organisation in the United States, in the town of Newtownards, an electoral stronghold of the hard-right Democratic Unionist Party. The incident, where the group was denied drinks in a local bar before posting pictures of themselves on social media, has been condemned across the political spectrum. This includes strong words of outrage from the local DUP MLA, Peter Weir (who of course terminated Irish education funding while serving as a regional minister in the now collapsed peace-brokered executive at Stormont). However, given the preponderance of Confederate flags and symbols in “loyalist” areas, and the “migrant-cleansing” of some unionist communities in recent years, pro-union representatives need to be doing more than just issuing homilies to their constituents.
The actions of the Democratic Unionists before and after the divisive 2016 referendum on Brexit in the United Kingdom have contributed to a renewed outpouring of racist and sectarian sentiment in the UK-administered north-east of Ireland. Reports of hate crimes have increased across the contested region, as the local British terror gangs have latched on to new tactics for expanding and deepening their influence and control. The DUP and other unionist leaders can no more wash their hands of the culture they have fostered than can Donald Trump in the United States, given the recent outrages there.