Current Affairs Politics

Whatever Happens, The DUP And Brexit Has Made A Reunited Ireland Inevitable

It’s been a remarkable seventy-two hours for the Democratic Unionist Party. Its leaders have gone from being fêted as the “guardians of the union” by the ideological hard-right in the United Kingdom, revelling in two years of unprecedented influence over the elected Conservative Party government in London, to being decried by those self-same voices as traitors to the Brexit aspirations of the UK. Or at least, the real UK and not that bedraggled rump of its Medieval colony across the Irish Sea. Here is the staunch Brexiteer journalist and DUP critic Leo McKinstry writing in today’s Sun newspaper in Britain:

[The DUP] …is a movement that glories in its unwillingness to compromise and makes a virtue of its grim stubbornness.

But tragically for our nation, these are the qualities that now control the process of Brexit — with disastrous consequences for our hopes of independence from EU rule.

At a time when flexibility and imagination are needed to pull Brexit out of the quagmire, our destiny is governed by a bunch of narrow-minded, intransigent bigots who care nothing for the wider interests of the UK.

The DUP were the only major party in Ulster strongly opposed to the Good Friday Agreement and “Ulster Says No” were the watchwords of their ­resistance campaign. More than 30 years later, the mood is just the same.

It is profoundly depressing that our great nation’s future should be guided by this tiny, unrepresentative platoon of charlatans and reactionaries.

The DUP does not belong in the mainstream of British politics, but on its despised fringes.

This is a nasty organisation with its roots in vicious Protestant sectarianism.

Determined to uphold Protestant rule in Northern Ireland, the DUP has a sinister history of flirtation with paramilitary outfits such as the Ulster Volunteer Force and Ulster Defence Association.

The Conservatives should have never entered into any kind of alliance with the DUP.

The bitter irony, however, is that through their recklessness the Democratic Unionists might soon achieve the very opposite of their goals.

For one thing, by preventing May’s deal they could well destroy any chance of Brexit. They pose as Brexit battlers but are really Brexit blockers.

The DUP were Brexiteers long before the term was invented, with five decades of animosity towards any kind of formal or institutional cooperation and alliance between the nation-states of Europe. A stance which became part and parcel of the party’s better known opposition to the reunification of Ireland. Having shaped Brexit with others as a one-shot bullet intended to kill both the UK’s membership of the EU and the “soft unity” witnessed on the island of Ireland since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which the DUP campaigned against, the group now finds its “hard union” plans scorched by unexpected blowback in Belfast, Dublin and London.

Rather than sneaking in a Partition 2.0 via an exit deal, the DUP’s shenanigans since 2016 seems to have actually accelerated thoughts of reunification by unsettling or alienating majority opinion on the island of Ireland. The party has succeeded in reviving the once ubiquitous debate about national unity in mainstream Irish politics and with a halo of legitimacy not seen in decades. And rather than finding all-weather allies among the anti-EU factions in the Palace of Westminster, principally the farcically-named European Research Group, the Democratic Unionists have discovered instead that many of their Conservative Party associates are fair weather friends at best. And that, in truth, most MPs in the House of Commons view “Northern Ireland” as no more British than Hong Kong or Jamaica or any other former occupied territory of the old empire.

So, fingers burned, a few wiser or more rational heads in the DUP may now be preparing to downplay the party’s enthusiasm for a “hard Brexit”, desperately hoping to un-pull a pulled trigger. But in terms of a younger generation of nationalist opinion on the island of Ireland, the aggravating injury has already been inflicted.

36 comments on “Whatever Happens, The DUP And Brexit Has Made A Reunited Ireland Inevitable

  1. All the more reason why brexit should be honoured. Btw, to be fair, the DUP know that Terry May’s deal is a fudge and isn’t brexit but rather a sleight of hand in order to dupe those folk who voted for brexit.

    • It kind of is Brexit. Norway et all in EEA/EFTA consider themselves (and so does the rest of the world) outside the EU, with only agreed access to parts the SM and parts of the CU. The May deal would involve only alignment with parts of the SM and place the UK outside the CU. It’s difficult to understand how that is somehow not a Brexit.

      • Signing up to an agreement(article50) that ensures you can’t walk away from the said agreement without the EU agreeing so isn’t ‘brexit’ in most people’s book. In fact it actually makes it harder for one to ‘leave’.

        • Except again, Norway et al who are with the SM and CU consider themselves outside the EU and the UK position is further away from there than that. So by any rational measure they’re outside the EU and have left the EU and the withdrawal agreement only confirms that. It’s an absurdity to argue that because an agreement has had to be struck the agreement itself somehow represents a reversal on Brexit. An agreement has to be struck and adhered to.

          • Again an ‘agreement’ is being forced upon the brexiteers and they keep rejecting it due to the fact it isn’t ‘brexit’. As Farage said its a ‘hoax’. Take May’s deal or risk a re run of the referendum isn’t any sane persons idea of a ‘struck’ agreement.

            • The problem is threefold. Saying that it ‘isn’t Brexit’ again and again is simply rhetoric, it doesn’t come close to addressing the actual functional nature of the issue. It clearly is considered a non-EU status by nation states like Iceland and Norway which within EFTA/EEA have a closer relationship than that proposed under the May deal. It’s more than good enough for long time leave proponents like Richard North et al.

              Secondly there’s no way forward in the context of the UK including Northern Ireland in the context of the GFA/BA that doesn’t include some form of agreement along the lines of the May deal. It’s simply impossible to square that circle. And keep in mind that the WA is not the final form of the relationship between UK and EU. That could comprise many different things.

              Thirdly and linked to the above given the issue of Northern Ireland the EU is entirely correct to ensure that the agreement can’t be simply walked away from by the UK due to the nature of the dispensation on the island. Everyone has responsibilities in this but as those pursuing the exit the UK has a greater responsibility to ensure that that aspect of the problem is engaged with through offering or developing a means to ensure that an open border remains on this island etc, etc. So entirely correctly when the UK can deliver that then all is fine and it can indeed walk away. But even before that the UK will have left the SM, the CU, the political structures of the EU etc, etc. That’s Brexit in any serious analysis.

              BTW, I don’t support a rerun of the referendum and I think that the UK should indeed leave the EU on foot of the referendum in 2016.

              • Despite my own criticisms of Brexit, I also think that a second referendum would be counterproductive. The UK should exit, with the manner of the exit to be negotiated to everyone’s satisfaction, but the referendum result should be honoured.

                The original Withdrawal Agreement, with UK-EU regulatory alignment as a mainly island of Ireland affair, was far more sensible and delivered for both the 2016 Brexit vote and the 1998 GFA vote. The biggest mistake was for the UK to extend the backstop to Britain.

                I think WbS you pointed out on the CLR that in the nitty-gritty of most long term post-Brexit deals the UK was going to end up closely aligned/networked to the EU anyway. That was inevitable.

                The UK could have had it’s fig-leaf or chimera of “independence” while still being plugged into the EU markets. Albeit at a disadvantage.

                Now the UK possibly ends with nothing for a few years until trade deals down the line puts it in the place it could have had all along.

              • Hope this comment winds up in the right place ASF, but just to agree that’s the crazy aspect to this isn’t it? There’s no way the UK can avoid deals with the EU. It’s too big, too close, too stable, to ignore, too important to UK markets. Pretending or wishing it away is a fools game. Sooner or later in the event of a no deal Brexit it will have to return and do the business.

                As you say an Irish Sea trade border would have answered most of the problems and it does seem very clear that the UK govt would have gone that route short of DUP sticking their oar in. It would also have been advantageous to the UK itself.

                I think we have to be pragmatic re the referendum. it’s what you say, however flawed putting aside the result is actually more problematic. There’s a further argument that the UK would have long been better suited to EEA/EFTA status or something along those lines – it’s a pity they’re going but with a polity that divided to not honour the result is as bad as going for a no deal Brexit. Remarkable how the idea of compromise on this just has gone out the door – there are a range of options that honour the referendum without arriving at a no deal. And that’s before we even consider our own very specific situation on this island.

        • Let’s start with the radical idea-these days-that facts actually have more weight than “most people’s book”.

          In fact, Britain can walk away from the EU without a deal. It’s just that doing so has consequences. One would involve being subject solely to the WTO’s rules-which are worse than the EU any day.

          Another involves penalties for breaking a treaty like the GFA.

          • That’s a key point you make… there are always choices but some are worse than others and / or incur penalties of one form or another. The idea all this can be cost free, that the UK can come out in a better position of that it’s room for movement is unlimited or that others have to bend to its will is not facing the realities of the situation.

  2. Is that the same Leo Mckinstry who claimed a Unionist MP once chased him round a table trying to kiss him. By the way the MP wasn’t female.

    • A rather odd apologia for Michael Jackson in 2005 from The Spectator:

      “…generations of boys in Britain who, before our more hysterical era, were the subject of the attentions of enthusiastic but essentially harmless older men. Most of the time, the gleaming eye and the wandering hand were a source of humour rather than fear.

      During my time there, the school was visited by the independent Unionist MP Jim Kilfedder, a surprisingly flamboyant, cosmopolitan figure for the hard world of Ulster politics. Unfortunately, the searchlight of his flamboyance settled in my direction and for several years he was an awkward presence in my youth. Though a decent and in many ways honourable man — who died of a heart attack in 1993 when gay rights activists threatened to expose him as a homosexual — I was never under any illusions about the nature of his interest in me, especially after one embarrassing evening when he took me to dinner at the House of Commons. Having imbibed rather too much claret, he cried out in a loud voice, ‘I can’t bear to have this table between us any longer,’ a statement which rather shook the Northern Labour MP at the table next to ours. Through a cowardly unwillingness to avoid a confrontation, I allowed him to remain a friend, though I rejected all his anguished attempts at greater intimacy.”

      • OK. So that is off-the-charts bizarre.

        As for Michael Jackson, I have long believed that there’s some uncertainty as to whether he was a pedophile or just a bizarre, profoundly damaged person with epic bad judgement. And people who worked for the Michael Jackson for years have told very different stories on whether or not he actually did anything untoward to children. The truth may never been known.

        As for the account of British boarding schools…..where to even start with that? OK. I’ve also heard talk about British boarding schools being of “Greek Love”. What I mean by that is a situation where there is a lot of sex between males of different ages and not of all it’s consensual, not because an unusually high percentage of these dudes are gay or pedophiles, but due to a lack of women and sick-and-twisted power dynamics. Much like “prison homosexuality” only with the age differential added to the equation.

        While I wouldn’t exactly be shocked if that were the case, but it does have a few yellow flags for caution.

        For one thing it seems possible that the author of that article may be engaging in an element of “revisionism” . Sometimes people who want to create bizarre (or understandable) new norms, do so by making it sound like certain behavior was more common in the past than it actually was. One example that’s a bit more understandable is the people who make bogus claims about historical or even fictional characters (Frodo and Sam) being gay-often based on 18th-19th century norms in terms of how people especially men talked or wrote to same-sex friends.

        While nonsense attempts to portray a number of historical figures (won’t name them to avoid wild tangents!!) as gay may just lack a certain respect for historical context, trying to normalize institutionalized pederasty is much, much more disturbing.

        There are clearly some people who are out to invert all those narratives about “The Playing Fields of Eton” to claims that the people who administered the British Empire were such a bunch of heartless SOBs because they got dinged at Eton-or some other high class British public school.😜

        I’m not going to dismiss that perspective out of hand, but it looks like a case of *proceed with caution*, ya know.

  3. Reblogged this on da Zêna and commented:
    desperately hoping to un-pull a pulled trigger

    • Alan Gordon

      Yes, that line also stood out for me “hoping to un-pull a pulled trigger” coupled with the paragraph starting “The DUP were brexiteers long before the term was invented” A paragraph dense with accuracy of history.

  4. Alan Gordon

    That was a vicious, vitriol fueled attacking piece by McKinstry but it will be water off a ducks back for the DUP. The game has moved on to more important matters, for the DUP, home based electoral support needs imediate bolstering.

    Their (DUP) leverage, at Westminster has now been expended with this latest move. I suggest that the latest announcement was precipitated from the impending regicide in Torydom and them along with the ERG being thrown under the bus, coupled to the prospect of being in 2nd place (even 3rd?) in the now very likely general election.

    Just my groats worth.

    Incidentally I was trying to find the procedure for calling a border poll. Am I correct in my understanding that the border poll is called by the Sec. State for NI, when she/he deems a majority wants one? Can a general election provide this evidence of need?

    • The procedure is deliberately ambiguous. Arguably, a nationalist majority at local elections, a Stormont election or a general election would be a trigger. But note the “arguably” bit. Would it be declared nationalist parties on 50%+ or just out-polling declared unionist parties (42% CNR vs. 41% PUL)? And what if a self-declared “other” decided to declare as unionist to stop a border poll? As in the Alliance Party? Suddenly 42% PUL is now 48% and out-polling 42% CNR.

      • Alan Gordon

        I did wonder if the border poll rules could be amended by Westminster to anything like the 1979 Scottish devolution referendum. Which stated that 40%+1 of the voting register needed to vote to change the status quo. Devolution won (52 54%?) on a 64% turnout but that only equated to, something like 34% of the register to vote, so nothing changed till 1998.

      • Alan Gordon

        Fine Gael and Fianna Fàil, any representation in the six counties?

    • Is that going to be a poll put to just NI? The whole UK? The Irish Republic and NI?

    • Is that just NI? Or does it include other parts of the UK and/or Ireland?

  5. Tatchell threatened to name two Unionist MP’s for acting one way in private and voting a different way in Parliament.

  6. Mutti wants the Irish “army” to hold the border. I am still laughing.

  7. I wonder if it is true what A Campbell said the other night. About DUP party funds drying up. Farmers and property developers not willing to shell out for disaster capitalism?

    • There’s could well still be a plentiful supply of “dark money”

      • Yeah, I was wondering about that too and whether Campbell would offer some evidence. If true it would be something but if it’s just rhetorical stuff it’s pointless.

      • Pat Murphy.

        Boiler money has been extinguished (pardon the pun) and the recycling business isn’t what it was. Those pesky injuns throwing a spanner (or a tyre) in the works.

  8. Somebody should put it around the Internet that the DUP take money from the Sultan of Brunei then they will have George Clooney to deal with.

  9. Jim McGettigan

    Perhaps a classic civil rights song with a fresh voice might be appropriate for the time being.

    • Pat murphy

      Beautiful song and wonderful sentiment but alas nothing seems to be changing. Same shit running the show just different ass holes.

      • JimMcGettigan

        In that context the longtime quest for a United Ireland would be to get their assholes out of power and vote your own assholes in, thereby acquiring a typical democracy. Sorted. Nothing is perfect🤔

      • ar an sliabh

        Couldn’t have said it any better!

  10. @profsked: The DUP says it could support Corbyn’s idea of a permanent customs union. If a Corbyn-May deal on a customs union does pass with DUP support, I will start backing a United Ireland.

    Above is a tweet from Professor Alan Sked founder of UKIP

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