Life for Peter Robinson in a powersharing government with Sinn Féin is becoming more awkward by the day.
For the first time, during Mr Robinson’s tenure as party leader, tensions have come to the surface in the DUP.
Like Sinn Féin the DUP are very adroit at keeping their counsel and at keeping the lid on internal dissent – up until now that is.
Enter ex wounded minister on the prowl, Sammy Wilson.
It was known in his private office and outside of it that he was aggrieved at being relieved of his ministerial duties.
Insiders told me he loved being Finance Minister and would have given up his Westminster seat in a flash - had he been given a choice to continue as Finance Minister.
Mr Wilson has raised his profile significantly in recent months – popping up more frequently than Gregory Campbell on the BBC’s Nolan Show.
In being so readily available to Nolan, the former swashbuckling Finance Minster left himself unsuspectingly open to too many questions.
Did freewheeling Sammy ring the DUP’s press office in advance to seek permission to go on the radio?
What do you think?
Hit with a habitual torrent of questions from Nolan, anxious and careful not to tell lies – Sammy Wilson opened up a flank on his interest in the party leadership.
When asked did he want to be party leader – he didn’t kill the idea stone dead.
Mr Wilson disclosed Peter Robinson hadn’t spoken to him from his ceasing to be a minister until his call to sound him out on the whole Maze Peace Centre project.
Again when pressed to say whether there was a difference of opinion with Mr Robinson on the Maze plan – he didn’t clear up an implication that his party leader had an alternative draft to the Maze document which he eventually forwarded to his Assembly and MP colleagues.
The east Antrim MP left too many swinging doors in his wake. This fuelled speculation of growing pressure on Mr Robinson.
Earlier Peter – of the “men in white coats” fame – in an attack on opponents of the Maze Peace Centre accused enemies of the project of engaging in ”scaremongering rubbish” and should be “taken away by men in white coats”.
Will this “white coats” remark become another “Peter the Punt” moment?
Will that phrase come back to haunt the First Minister?
Has TUV leader Jim Allister hastened the day when “men in white coats” might come and take Peter himself away?
Allister boldly declared “the nutters have won” when he spoke on Radio Ulster in the wake of Peter Robinson’s breaking rank with Martin McGuinness on the plans for a Peace Centre on Maze site.
Allister’s jibe was a reference to a DUP MLA description of those opposed to the Maze Centre. The member later apologised for his use of language.
For months the TUV and other anti Maze Peace Centre opponents had tramped over the country getting Unionists to sign a petition against the Peace Centre. Orange rallies were specific targets over the Twelfth.
The TUV’s troops turned up at Scarva and according to Mr Alllister’s advisor Sammy Morrison – they were overwhelmed by the numbers wanting to sign the petition rejecting the Peace Centre.
MLAs like Edwin Poots who observed a lot of what was going on the ground were sending this message back to their leader who had up until then held the line on the Maze development.
When big beasts like Sammy Wilson moved in for the kill – Peter Robinson had no choice but reverse his position.
He ended up a prisoner of the right wing in his own party and outside that party.
Mr Robinson’s Maze U turn was a singular victory for UUP leader Mike Nesbitt but it was TUV leader Jim Allister who inflicted more pain on the DUP and on Mr Robinson in particlular.
He scored two direct hits in the last Parliamentary term on the DUP, both against Mr Robinson’s Sinn Féin partners in government.
Firstly Mr Allister took on the Assembly floor on Sinn Féin’s appointment of ex prisoner Mary McArdle as a Special Advisor to DCAL minister Caral Ní Chuilín.
Secondly Allister drummed up a backlash against Peter Robinson’s espousal of the Maze Peace Centre project, which Republicans saw as the jewel in their crown.
As I write Peter Robinson has probably secured his leadership for now but he is a prisoner of the right in his own camp.
Allister’s two victories have been over Sinn Féin in government with the DUP.
This is historically not insignificant.
Is there growing traction for this approach?
Where does this leave Mr Robinson’s much vaunted ‘modernising’ image and campaign?
In a sentence – stifled.
Mr Robinson has been shackled by his own party and outside Unionist forces, including those engaging in protest over flags, parades and the past.
The DUP leader’s survival now depends on his falling into line with the hardliners.
Up and coming elections will shape everything from herein.