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Donaldson plays to type and puts DUP ahead of the people

Threat to collapse Stormont comes as NHS faces intense pressure
On the back of polling which saw its support plummet to only 13 per cent of voters, the the Democratic Unionist Party is reverting to type with a rudderless threat to bring down Stormont in the midst of a global pandemic.

As the UK National Health Service already teeters on the edge of collapse and Covid-19 cases persistently mount, the revolving door of ever-self-serving DUP leaders has continued to ensure that only the least qualified to protect the public interest are awarded the power to break our fragile democracy.

Haemorrhaging loyalists to Jim Allister's TUV, and moderate unionists to Doug Beattie's UUP, the party was faced with a dilemma over its ardent opposition to the Northern Ireland protocol, and now we have their decision.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson laid out a number of "actions" in his speech on Thursday morning. These plans include an immediate withdrawal from strand-two North-South structures under the Belfast Agreement, a refusal to engage in implementation of border checks, and a resolve to obstruct any alignment with European Union law.

Crucially, none of these actions includes a timeframe - an omission more indicative of political posturing than a political plan. He added: "I'm prepared to go to the country and seek a fresh mandate. That's democracy."

Democracy, however, would in actuality necessitate the fulfilment of the mandate handed down by the people of Northern Ireland in 2017. It would demand the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement, and it would both acknowledge and respect the reality that Brexit has no democratic mandate in Northern Ireland.

The floundering DUP leader claimed the Northern Ireland protocol was causing "harm on a daily basis" and risked "economic difficulties". However, evidence suggests that the protocol could boost the Northern Ireland economy with a sharp increase in foreign direct investors vying for the North's twin market access to both the UK and the EU.

Donaldson has decided he has a better chance of wooing voters back from the TUV than the UUP. His problem is that it is the UUP which is more likely to deprive the DUP of its leading position within unionism. The UK government has also taken some of the wind out of the anti-protocol sentiment by extending current grace periods unilaterally and indefinitely, with the tacit acquiescence of the EU.

His other problem is that he badly needs to take the focus of the electorate away from Brexit and the Protocol, because must of them blame the DUP and their erstwhile ally, Boris Johnson, for foisting it on N. Ireland. So it was that he spent some time railing against proposals for greater cross-border policing cooperation - an issue unionists are usually in favour of.

But no one is buying it:
`Last-chance saloon' for spooked DUP as it goes hard on the protocol

"He is trying to convey that he's genuinely hard ball on this because he is spooked by the rise in support for the Traditional Unionist Voice party, polling at 14 per cent, and thinks there is some mileage for the DUP going hard against the protocol."

Opposition to the protocol is one thing that unites a great section of unionism at the moment. But there have been no credible alternatives widely aired.

Despite worst fears there was no summer of unrest over the simmering tensions. But Donaldson in his speech evoked past warnings of some eruption

Threats of violence is about all the DUP has got left.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Sep 10th, 2021 at 05:01:58 PM EST

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