DUP stands at the crossroads – Brian Spencer discusses

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The headline then, in September 2012 and early June 2014, was that the DUP is a remote and removed theo-unionist, play-banning, creationist sect, unrepresentative of modern Northern Ireland and Britain.

The headline now, is that the DUP is a remote and removed theo-unionist, play-banning, creationist sect, unrepresentative of Northern Ireland and Britain. “A kind of Britishness that is hard to recognise on the mainland.” 

The DUP is a political party that practices a “Protestantism not for the people, but for the party” as Dr Katy Hayward put it. “The embarrassing hardline” turned mainstream.

And that’s where the meat of the matter lay at the DUP book launch – with Katy Hayward who pricked the windbag with a fearless, plain English empirical assault. Where others flattered, Katy fired. And her weapon of choice was fact against DUP fiction. And boy did the unfettered confrontation of fact with obfuscation create a beautiful light.

She fired with three arrows:

Firstly, she looked at the fabrication, fostering and exploitation of an ill-founded and unchecked loyalist grievance narrative by the the DUP. The “so-called”, culture war™.

This slogan, she said, represents “defiant insecurity.” Defiant against fact. Like the facts that say that loyalist culture is “flourishing”, that their fears are actually “phantom” and that, as Brian Rowan said, loyalists have been afforded more time and attention than anyone else in the process. “The process did not leave loyalism behind. Loyalism left the process.”

This “defiant insecurity” is present from ghetto to government, Katy Hayward said. “Indeed the DUP has made a motivating and coherent ideology out of it.”

Secondly, the DUP embodies unionism as “politicised Protestantism”. Theo-unionism has a better ring to it I feel; because remember, not only do they have the argument, but they have god on their side. Terrifying. Pastorgate is the perfect example of this, as Katy Hayward said. That toxic mix of religion and politics. With that event she took a devastating swipe against the DUP and Northern Ireland itself:

“Cameron can be held to account by parliamentary committee or shifting voter preferences. If however a party needs to secure its appeal within its own constituency, and if this is best done by stoking distrust and insecurity, then the only judgement that really matters is that of god on the day of judgement,” she said. “If there is no motive or potential for change, the moderating force of political democracy is in effect rendered obsolete.”

Thirdly, the DUP wield the freedoms of a liberal democracy to attack those very freedoms. She turned to Pastorgate again:

“Pastor James McConnell and Peter Robinson both claimed and made use of a universal human rights and a bedrock of western liberal democracy – freedom of speech,” she said. “But they used this freedom to express a view that would see the end of liberal democracy were it to be brought about to its logical conclusion.”

This is the fanatical and futile dead-end we now find ourselves in. Deeply politicised Protestant fundamentalists condemning Islam for its link with politicised Islamic fundamentalists. And there in an instant you’ve been transported back in time to the Crusades.

This is madness and needs checked, answered loudly and utterly repudiated. Religious inspired politics, megaphone bigotry, blended with fear of the other is no substitute for actual politics.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve seen it now. You’ve either been conned or are complicit. The DUP have nothing to offer but protest, reaction, isolationism, rejectionism, prohibitionism and aggression and disorder through their street fighting-proxies. The DUP is a party of protest who happens to be in power. The move from protest to power hasn’t dissolved the ultra-reactionary-religious, insurgency ideology. They are continuity Paisleyites, opposed to the rationality of the secular Enlightenment, to political compromise and to participation in the fact and policy based parliamentary system.

They betray their own cause which is to support a non-coercive Union of plural people that leads the world with progressive legislation. They betray their own people as they deceive, manipulate and propagandise them with exorbitant, baseless, foundless, factless claims.

A true leader has a vision, creates new realities and takes society there. The DUP would, at your conned or complicit behest, create a greater Caleb Foundation by the sea. That’s why Liam Clark, when he wasn’t in book launch flatter mode, was right when he said:

“[Northern Ireland is] more like Russia, or the Congo, than Britain, or Ireland.”

McGuinness, by his warm diplomacy and Obama-like back-slapping, disarms and utterly deprives unionist hostility of its substance. He and his party have an inspiring all-Ireland vision (I hope you don’t call me a Lundy or a “guilt Prod” for saying that) and are hurtling towards it. Robinson and the DUP are looking at the burning bush while loyalists babble

[Disclaimer: I speak only of violent loyalists].

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About Author

Brian is a writer, artist and law graduate.


  1. I totally agree but fear that the writer is preaching to the converted. The big question has to be how the huge grundswell of support for theo focussed politics can ever move forward. A huge proportion of the population of Northern Ireland shelters secure in their Plato like Cave while the theo politicians on the outside, who know the reality, continue to project the figures on the wall through the light of the 11 July bonfires.

  2. Disclaimer: I speak only of violent loyalists.

    Yes, but how much fresh distance is there between them and the non-violent types?
    They support each other so closely that it is hard to differentiate, and especially hard to accept is the effort the non-violents will put into excusing and justifying the violents.
    Unionists are certainly very effective in gaining indulgence, especially by the British government, and even by the Irish government (for all the thanks they will ever get for it).
    In the hullabaloo over the OTRs, no matter how many people (without an axe to grind) point out the various timelines when officialdom publicised the scheme’s existence, Cameron has listened to, and paid attention to them.
    He gave them the Hallett inquiry, and his MPs went along with Ian Paisley in setting up a parliamentary inquiry. It is bewildering how people are going along with this kangaroo court, as so much of the evidence is totally contrary to what Ian Og would like to hear, evidenced by how he personally attacks anyone, like Peter Hain, who says: ‘Yes everybody knew’.
    How long will the establishment pander to this pan-unionist arrant nonsense? Only when it stops will the unionists have to face reality.

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