We all react differently to a little pressure
So much excitement about four DUP MPs travelling to Killarney to show themselves to the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary body.
The truth is that they had no option. It just goes to show that even some in the DUP respond to pressure.
In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the DUP insist they want to be part of a northern administration.
The smarter MPs – or, as some hope, the more 'pragmatic' MPs – know that they can hardly claim to want to participate in an administration here yet refuse to speak to fellow parliamentarians from Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
After all, the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary body is a powerless talking shop and anyway, the Irish government has given up its claim to the north, so what's the problem?
They've run out of excuses and pretexts. It will be good practice for the talking-shop assembly they want. Continued abstention would simply confirm the general opinion that the DUP is a party of bigots.
Meanwhile, the pressure is on from Dublin and London to move into talks with Sinn Féin.
Our proconsul made it clear at the weekend that the British government no longer accepts the DUP excuse that the IRA is lurking in the background. In fact the British government now publicly rejects the DUP reasons for prevaricating.
The question is, what effect this pressure will have on the bulk of DUP voters, reared as they have been on a diet of virulent anti-Catholicism and political apartheid? Will it make any difference?
Jeffrey Donaldson is the DUP MP most eloquent about the need to 'make the unionist case'. He's obviously a welcome support for Peter Robinson, who's been the Paisleyite bridesmaid now for a quarter of a century.
Jeffrey's Ulster Unionist Party slip is showing more and more as he advocates being reasonable in a party noted for its bull-headedness.
The problem is that Jeffrey is a Johnny-come-lately in the DUP and is weighted with that UUP baggage.
Many people choose to forget that the party leader's guiding text from his earliest years as a preacher is from Corinthians: "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord and touch not the unclean thing."
For many of his faithful followers who are saved and born again, it is inconceivable to share power with Catholics or nationalists let alone Sinn Féin. They depend on Paisley not to do it.
Jeffrey's desire 'to make the unionist case' cuts no ice with the hot-gospellers, holy rollers and Bible-thumpers in the DUP, especially if, as many of them believe, making the unionist case inevitably ends in getting into bed with Sinn Féin.
Furthermore, no-one in the DUP has given the slightest indication to the crazies in the party that they intend to share power with Sinn Féin.
Peter Robinson promises to consult the electorate. Not before 2008 for sure.
Do the crazies care if our proconsul threatens them with higher rates, water charges, school closures and deeper Dublin involvement?
Not a bit.
It doesn't seem to occur to the genius strategists in the NIO that these nutters voted DUP because they would rather eat grass than share power with Sinn Féin. In fact, for many of them, deeper Dublin involvement would be preferable to sharing power with SF if that was the only alternative.
Ah, you might say, too much emphasis on the DUP crazies. If it came to an election the majority of 'decent unionists' would support partnership.
Nope. That was the last gaffe of Trimble's unlamented leadership when he claimed that 'decent people' support the UUP.
The DUP represents the majority of unionists not because there was a huge swing from UUP to DUP but because a huge number of UUP voters, decent or otherwise, stayed at home.
In other words, the vast majority of unionist voters either don't want to share power under any circumstances, namely the DUP's supporters, or they couldn't care less whether there is ever partnership, namely the famous UUP 'garden centre unionists'.
So don't imagine the DUP visit to Killarney signifies anything but a fig leaf.
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