Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Power-sharing in our interest - DUP

Robbo ready for power The big news so far from Killarney, County Kerry, where the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body have been meeting, relates to comments made by DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson who has stated his party will consult the entire unionist community if and when, in its opinion, the IRA has moved from violence to democracy.

Speaking to the Body, Mr Robinson said:

"I cannot say if or when a judgement can be made that completion has been reached, but if and when a prima facia case can be made, we have committed ourselves as a party, in our election manifesto, to a consultation process within our community."

Seems fair enough but then Mr Robinson began to stretch the truth somewhat saying his party had "nothing to gain by unnecessarily delaying devolution":

"With over 30 MLAs, we are the largest political party in Northern Ireland and would have greater influence than any other party over decisions taken in the province.

"It is in our interests, and more importantly, it is in the interests of the people we represent, that when the conditions are right we have devolution returned to Northern Ireland at the earliest opportunity."

I think Mr Robinson ought to inform many of the unionists in his own party about that because as I highlighted in this post back in February, alot of these people take a different line. In a survey of 100 delegates who had attended the DUP's annual conference in Belfast, 37% of those questioned felt that felt that even if the IRA ended its criminality and destroyed every weapon, direct rule by British ministers in the North would be preferable while 24% had no opinion. Even though 39% of those questioned believed that, in the right context, the party should share power with Sinn Féin and other parties, those figures are still very worrying.

I see some have viewed Peter Robinson's comments as a 'Get Out of Stalemate Free Card'. It remains to be seen if that will be the case.

My own view is that the two government's recent proposals for restoring devolution have got the DUP quite flustered. I believe the top brass in the DUP like Robinson do want to be power but that this is being made difficult by those who are quietly pleased with the status quo. Thus I think that the real "consultation process" will not be through external talks with other unionist figures, but rather through an internal consultation process with their own hardline, devolution-wary members.

We can only speculate at this point how this process will unfold.


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