Ghastly DUP holds us all to ransom

arlene

Ulsterman ALAN FRAME regrets the stranglehold Arlene Foster, pictured right, and her bigoted Democratic Unionist Party holds over the rest of the UK

As some of you may know, my roots are Irish with both sides of the family from the six northerly counties that comprise much of the province of Ulster. 

That probably means we were planted there hundreds of years ago when various monarchs strove to quell the indigenous population (and not just the peasants but the Irish kings, earls and clan chieftains.)

In other words I am an Ulsterman which these days might be seen as something of a confession in the way of the old joke: Reporter: ‘Good morning madam, I am Fred Farnsbarnes from the News of the World.’ Woman: ‘Can you prove it?’ Reporter: ‘Prove it? Madam I’m admitting it.’

A confession because to so many in the rest of Ireland and in Britain an Ulsterman/and or woman is a small-minded, bigoted throw-back. This is nonsense of course; the vast majority are decent, funny, and intelligent, who thanks to the province’s vastly superior education system contribute to the greater good at home and throughout the world. This is rarely written about because it is not news. Rather, what is recorded on a daily basis are the machinations of the Democratic Unionist Party. And as a result those of us from Northern Ireland are viewed in the same light as these ghastly DUP politicians. 

Make no mistake, they are ghastly: They want the same rights and laws as the rest of the UK except when it comes to gay rights and abortion. Its leader Arlene Foster is the architect of the Renewable Heating Incentive, a scandal estimated to have cost the public purse £500 million and counting because of the lack of cost controls. Her refusal to take any blame and to stand aside while a long running inquiry rumbles on led directly to the resignation of Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister and the collapse of the Stormont government. 

The DUP currently holds to ransom the UK and Theresa May over the terms of the Brexit agreement. (Of course the Prime Minister has only herself to blame by giving £1bn to the unionists to ensure their support in propping up her government – support that is no longer forthcoming.) 

Isn’t it extraordinary that though they have so much power over the population of England, Scotland and Wales, the power–sharing government in Northern Ireland is not functioning and hasn’t been for almost two years because of the intransigence of Foster.

Another factor in the impasse is that she and her colleagues refuse a Sinn Fein request to introduce Irish in a limited way (the civil service, place names and education) as an alternative language. Wales does it extensively, Scotland to a lesser extent. But no, Foster’s lot won’t countenance an Irish Language Act and so power-sharing stays in the cupboard and the province is left the devices of its civil servants and the intellectually challenged Karen Bradley.

Consider this: Several DUP politicians have called for creationism to be taught in Northern Ireland schools; four of its MPs are ‘young earth creationist’ (and are probably flat earthers) and when a National Trust exhibition explaining its formation was held at the Giant’s Causeway, there were protests from DUP members that creationism should have been included.

Now a councillor in Stroke City as Derry/Londonderry is known, has forced the removal of a poster that was marketing the place as a shopping venue because the words: ‘Have Yourself a Derry Little Christmas’ were not inclusive for not using the place name Londonderry.  I have not just made up any of this, I promise.

So everyone, Mrs May’s government is now at the mercy of a party with 10 MPs at Westminster, with policies further to the right than even the most blimpish Tory, reminiscent of the die-hards in apartheid-era South Africa or the red necks from 1950s US; some of whose members believe the world is no more than 4,000 years old and that every word in the Bible is the literal truth; who think women have no right to choose when it comes to abortion, and who would like an open debate on reinstating the death penalty.

Another fine mess you’ve got us into Theresa…


© 2005-2018 Alastair McIntyre