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Poots to lead DUP - where?

by Frank Schnittger Fri May 14th, 2021 at 06:33:41 PM EST

Edwin Poots has defeated Jeffrey Donaldson 19-17 in the first ever vote for the leadership of the DUP. Previous Leaders - founder Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster had been elected unopposed. The electorate consisted of elected DUP MPs and MLAs (Members of the N. Ireland Legislative Assembly) following a campaign which consisted of no public interviews whatsoever and just a 10 minute speech to a closed meeting of the electors. Apparently this was because the DUP considered the election an "internal matter", but it confirmed just how inward looking the DUP has become.

After his election, Poots promised to reach out to other leaders of Unionism in order to see unionists working together better. There was no mention of reaching out to nationalists or the growing numbers in N. Ireland who self-identify as neither unionist nor nationalist. His political priority is to end the N. Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement because it has created a customs border down the Irish sea, although he is all in favour of such a border when it comes to not implementing UK laws on homosexuality and same sex marriages.


Poots is a young earth creationist and rejects the theory of evolution.[13] In an interview with BBC presenter William Crawley, when asked how old the Earth was, Poots replied: "My view on the earth is that it's a young earth. My view is 4,000 BC". Young earth creationism is accepted by the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, of which Poots is a member, and other conservative evangelicals in Northern Ireland.[14] In a 2012 Belfast Telegraph article, which discussed lobbying by the creationist bible group the Caleb Foundation, Poots reportedly stated that, while not a member of the group, "Some of my views coincide with the Caleb Foundation".[15]

Poots faced criticism for banning blood donations from gay people,[16] saying: "I think that people who engage in high-risk sexual behaviour in general should be excluded from giving blood".[17] In June 2012, Poots said he wanted to extend the ban to people who have sex "with somebody in Africa or sex with prostitutes", stating that, in his view, this was also high-risk sexual behaviour.[17]

In September 2013, as Health Minister for Northern Ireland, he fought the ruling that would bring laws around LGBT adoption in Northern Ireland into line with other parts of the United Kingdom.[18]

In January 2016, Poots was criticised by gender equality advocates, political commentators and other politicians for saying that the newly elected First Minister, Arlene Foster's, most important job was as a "wife, mother and daughter".[19][20][21][22] Poots defended himself saying his statement was "not sexist" and that he considered his most important job to be that of a "husband, father and son".[23][24]

In October 2020, he was criticised by members of Sinn Féin and the Alliance Party after saying coronavirus was more common in nationalist areas. He stated: "There is a difference between nationalist areas and unionist areas - and the difference is around six to one".[25] The Department of Health issued a statement confirming that "data on Covid infections is not collected according to religious or political affiliation"

His election marks a turning inward in DUP policies back to their fundamentalist protestant and Paisleyite Free Presbyterian Church roots (as opposed to the relatively more mainstream Presbyterian Church affiliation of Jeffrey Donaldson). In so doing it may serve to further alienate the DUP from an increasingly liberal and diverse N. Ireland society. It may stem the flow of voters to the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice party but will hardly stem the rise of the "small u" unionist but non-sectarian Alliance Party which has come close to overtaking the DUP in recent opinion polls.

Arlene Foster was the first Anglican to lead the DUP and may have broadened its appeal beyond its primary Presbyterian base. It will be interesting to see whether Anglican voters will now abandon the DUP for their traditional home in the almost moribund Ulster Unionist Party, previously led by David Trimble, and whose current leader Steve Aiken has also just resigned. So far, British Army veteran Doug Beattie is the only declared candidate for the position.

In electing a relatively unknown N. Ireland politician and rejecting their experienced Westminster Leader, Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP may also be turning inward from involvement in Westminster politics following the widespread sense of betrayal by Boris Johnson over the N. Ireland Protocol. However it is difficult to see how emphasizing its differences with the rest of the UK by electing a creationist leader will aid the Union in the long run.

Arlene Foster, together with Jeffrey Donalson and previous Westminster leader Nigel Dodds had played a key role in derailing Theresa May's attempts to ratify a Brexit deal which would not have required "a border down the Irish Sea". DUP MPs have all but outlived their usefulness to Boris Johnson at Westminster, whose priorities are now clearly centred around gaining a trade deal with the USA. But his failure to win the DUP leadership can hardly increase Jeffrey Donaldson's influence with Conservative and ERG Brexiteers there.

It's probably fair to say that many nationalists will be delighted at Poots' election, seeing it as a further diminution of unionist influence in Westminster and increasing irrelevance for many voters in N. Ireland itself. Poot's creationism and opposition to all liberal or secular reforms nicely encapsulates the party's increasing isolation from just about everyone else. But it does nothing to further reconciliation within N. Ireland itself which many see as a prerequisite for a successful united Ireland in the future.

That process will have to await a while. Perhaps the next N. Ireland Assembly elections, scheduled for May 2022 will reinforce recent trends towards a less sectarian body politic, with the non-sectarian Alliance Party and Greens making further gains. On the Nationalist side, perhaps the more moderate Social Democrat and Labour party will also recover some of the initiative from Sinn Féin. I wouldn't be holding my breath, however. Political change in N. Ireland tends to move at a glacial pace.

What happens if Alliance beats DUP in 2022 to become second largest after Sinn Fein?

If I remember correctly, you need a Nationalist and a Unionist party to form a government. Or is it explicitly the largest Nationalist and largest Unionist?

Does Alliance count as Unionist here? They are listed as Other on Wikipedia.

I guess my questions boils down to if Sinn Fein and Alliance (and possibly more if needed to form a majority) can form a government or if there are formal obstacles against that.

by fjallstrom on Sat May 15th, 2021 at 08:37:49 PM EST
For the purposes of the governmental system set up under the Good Friday Agreement, the Alliance party designates itself as unionist. The First Minister is appointed by the largest party and the second minister by the largest party of the opposite persuasion. So you could have Sinn Féin and Alliance Party first and second Ministers and vice versa. In practical terms there isn't much difference in the powers of those positions. The rest of the Ministers in the executive are appointed by the D'HONDT SYSTEM so you don't have a formal government and opposition as such.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat May 15th, 2021 at 10:14:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, so the whole cabinet is filled by following a formula. That is actually how we do it on the local level in Sweden, giving the opposition minority representation in local executives. (Though we use modified Sainte-Laguë instead of d'Hondt.)

Two questions:

1) Are ministerial portfolios also distributed by following the formula? Or do they have to agree who gets finance, health, education, environment, etc.

  • Lets see, Greens gets the fifth ministerial portfolio, so Education...
  • We would rather have Environment!
  • You get Education!

2) What then has the stale mate been about. They obviously disagree on politics, but that is what the formula is for. Hating each other so much that they refuse to actually meet as a cabinet?
by fjallstrom on Sun May 16th, 2021 at 07:46:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Following the d'Hondt formula, each party gets its pick of whatever portfolios are still available when their turn comes.

  2. More or less. Arlene managed to piss McGuinness off so much that he resigned as deputy first Minister and SF refused to nominate a replacement. The Executive can only operate on a cross-community basis so that meant it was suspended and Direct Rule from Westminster was instigated for a number of years and pissed EVERYBODY off  - so much so that BOTH DUP and SF lost votes at the last assembly elections.

That was quite an achievement by our Arlene, as McGuinness had gotten on famously with Ian Paisley - they became known as the "Chuckle Brothers"- despite the fact that he was a former Chief-of-Staff of the IRA (always officially denied, of course). The DUP, and especially Arlene, have a long track record of over-playing their hand.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 16th, 2021 at 10:17:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The DUP, and especially Arlene, have a long track record of over-playing their hand.

Is this expected to be worse with Poots, or the same?

The fellow doesn't strike me as someone able to understand such concepts.

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue May 18th, 2021 at 06:21:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He really has no track record in serious politics. MLAs are glorified County Councillors. I suspect he is more comfortable amongst his own than playing power games in Westminster. We shall see, but I hope this presages the DUP downsizing quite a bit.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue May 18th, 2021 at 07:32:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It has to be asked. Just how poetic is if for Poots to be the leader of DUP?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 16th, 2021 at 03:39:28 AM EST
There was a creationist called Poots
Believed Earth had 6000 year roots
His Party was DUPed
and future was pooped
But Boris couldn't give two hoots!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 16th, 2021 at 09:55:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More rating options needed here
by asdf on Sun May 16th, 2021 at 01:29:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I used to be a poet, but things went from bad to verse!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 16th, 2021 at 02:47:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There once was a poet named Frank
who came from an isle rather dank.
He wrote many letters
to various editors
that also informed this Yank.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun May 16th, 2021 at 03:34:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The SECRET selection of Poots to  lead the DEMOCRATIC Unionist Party is all of a piece.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 16th, 2021 at 03:14:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sometimes things change very slowly until they don't.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun May 16th, 2021 at 03:27:16 PM EST
Doug Beattie elected new leader of Ulster Unionist Party
Speaking after his election, Mr Beattie suggested a more liberal leadership of the UUP could widen the gap between his party and the DUP, which on Friday elected Edwin Poots as leader, a stalwart of unionism's more fundamentalist wing.

Mr Beattie said it would give unionism a choice and "those disenfranchised unionists who may be more centre or centre right, will find a home with the Ulster Unionist Party, those who are maybe more to the right may well find a home with a DUP."

While he would move to reassure more conservative UUP members that they have "nothing to fear" from his leadership, he admitted some may abandon his ranks over the direction he intends to take.

"As the Ulster Unionist Party leader I want to grow and sometimes they say you have to shrink in order to grow and if I have to shrink to grow, that is exactly what I will do," he said.

"But we will look for policies that are progressive."

Some within his party "may not like my liberal credentials" in which case "I have to accept that."

Liberal, in a UUP context, means accepting that UK laws on abortion and same sex marriage should apply in N. Ireland as well.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon May 17th, 2021 at 04:13:40 PM EST
Given that the British army veteran was elected unopposed, it is hard to argue that there are any wings in the UUP at all...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon May 17th, 2021 at 04:15:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bernard (bernard) on Tue May 18th, 2021 at 08:31:25 PM EST
Arlene Foster says she will leave DUP and tells Edwin Poots he must `heal divisions'
Arlene Foster has confirmed she will leave the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) when she steps down as First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Mrs Foster also said that if new party leader Edwin Poots appoints a new ministerial team on Tuesday, she will step down immediately as First Minister.


Meanwhile, Mr Poots has denied a split in the party after several senior figures walked out of a meeting to ratify his election to the role before his inaugural speech.

The North's Minister for Agriculture was confirmed as the party leader at a meeting on Thursday evening in Belfast of the party's 130-strong executive.

Before he addressed the gathering, Ms Foster, MPs Jeffrey Donaldson, Gavin Robinson and Gregory Campbell, as well as Stormont Economy Minister Diane Dodds, all left.


After his ratification as new leader, Mr Poots described his relationship with the Irish Government as "really, really bad" as he criticised Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

Mr Poots appears to have taken issue with an incident from 2018, in which Mr Varadkar brought a copy of The Irish Times to a European Council meeting in Brussels, to highlight his concerns over the Border issue.

The front-page story was about an IRA bombing of a Border customs post in 1972 that left nine people dead.


"They are going to starve Northern Ireland people of medicines no less, cancer drugs and other materials, such as the food that's on our table," he said.

"And I say that's a shame on the Irish government that they (did) that, and that belongs to Fine Gael, under the leadership of Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney.

"So relationships are really, really bad for the Irish government as a consequence."

I don't think the Irish government is too concerned. They have yet to figure out what constructive engagement with Mr. Poots is possible, if any.  Certainly blaming the Irish government for the EU's aborted attempt to invoke A. 16 of the protocol is not a good start.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 28th, 2021 at 01:44:46 PM EST
EU ambassador rejects DUP leader Edwin Poots' criticism of Northern Ireland protocol
The EU's ambassador to the United Kingdom has rejected accusations by new Democratic Unionist leader Edwin Poots that Brussels was doing "demonstrable harm" to the Northern Ireland peace process.

João Vale de Almeida condemned "a public discourse that raises unrealistic expectations" in an interview with the BBC's Today program on Tuesday. He insisted that the Northern Ireland protocol, which created a post-Brexit trade barrier between Northern Ireland and Britain, "is not the problem. Brexit created the problem in Northern Ireland."

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Jun 1st, 2021 at 08:00:03 PM EST
into oblivion if the recent fall to 16% support holds.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed Jun 2nd, 2021 at 03:59:30 PM EST
Dear Sir, -The term "Stochastic terrorism" refers to a phenomenon whereby those that incite and create a climate of violence can never be traced to actually perpetrating it. They increase the statistical probability of violence occurring by creating a sense of fear and loathing but simultaneously decry all responsibility for it on the basis that no one can prove a direct link between their words and actions and those who actually carried out the violence.  

Donal Trump's orchestration of the Capitol hill riot was one recent example, although, as usual, he was too blatant in his approach to make his denials of responsibility credible. That didn't stop the vast majority of Republican legislators acquitting him of "high crimes and misdemeanours."

Edwin Poots seems hell-bent on following the Trump playbook, stoking up divisions and engaging in all manner of conspiracy theories in an attempt to gin up trouble and demonise the Irish government. To listen to him speak, you would never understand that the Northern Ireland Protocol was part of an international treaty freely negotiated between Her Majesty's government and the EU and to which Ireland is not even a direct contracting party.

It is difficult to believe that the rioters in the streets actually run an import export business or are directly affected by the Protocol. Neither do they appear to understand that it was initially welcomed by the DUP, and that it arose from an attempt to bridge the gap created by the UK opting to leave the EU Single Market and Customs Union after the DUP had voted down every other attempt at reaching a Withdrawal agreement, the rest of which had required no such protocol.

To claim that the Irish Government wanted to deprive Northern Ireland of food and medicines - when that was actually an idea mooted by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in relation to Ireland - is a departure into fantasy land worthy of a John Cleese comedy if it wasn't so serious. Edwin Poots can believe what he likes about the origins of the Earth, but he is not entitled to his own facts about our present and future.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 4th, 2021 at 12:57:30 PM EST

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