Thanks to UK’s fundamentally flawed voting system of FPTP and sheer desperation, Theresa May has signed a deal with the devi-DUP in order to form a majority government. DUP have been one of the main parliamentary parties in Northern Ireland since The Troubles, but are virtually unknown in Great Britain. Here, we have a look at some of the most recent scandals that the unionist party has somehow survived.
The Democratic Unionist Party is the largest political party in Northern Ireland. As a unionist party, the DUP want the link between Northern Ireland and Great Britain to remain strong. The party is rooted in evangelical Protestantism and follows traditional conservative Christian values. Whilst they are the biggest party in Northern Ireland, they form a power sharing government with Sinn Féin, in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement.
The RHI heating scheme was set up by the DUP leader Arlene Foster in her previous role as economy minister in 2012, and could potentially cost Northern Ireland almost half a billion pounds. It was supposed to encourage businesses to switch from using fossil fuels to greener sources like wood pellets, but ended up offering ‘cash for ash’ with participants receiving £1.60 for every £1 spent on fuel. It was extended to the domestic sector in 2014. The UK treasury will pick up most of the £1b projected cost, but £400 million will come out of the Northern Ireland public services block grant.
During the Brexit campaign last year, the DUP financed a supplement in the British newspaper Metro that urged people to vote to leave the EU. This newspaper does not distribute in Northern Ireland, and cost them £282,000. To put this into context, the party spent £90,000 on its assembly election campaign. Northern Ireland is exempt from large donation declaration laws but after political pressure, Jeffrey Donaldson admitted that this money spent on advertising came from a £425,000 donation given by the Constitutional Research Council (CRC). It has been suggested that the CRC has links to the former Director General of the Saudi intelligence service, Prince Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz.
Whilst the DUP championed the leave campaign, the people of Northern Ireland voted to remain by 55.8%. Post referendum, DUP have maintained their anti-EU stance meaning that if they get into government, they will not be representing Northern Irish opinion. Not only will they be unrepresentative of the entirety of Northern Ireland, none of the constituencies that lie on the border will be represented in Brexit negotiations talks as they voted for Sinn Féin – who historically refuse to take their seats in parliament. This means the constituencies most affected by Brexit and its question of a hard or soft border in Ireland will not have a voice. This is not exclusively the fault of the DUP, but in a Tory/DUP coalition, the Tories cannot be a neutral mediator when it comes to the role of Northern Ireland in Brexit, which is likely to lead to further alienation of the Nationalist community from British politics.
Throughout the election campaign, heavy emphasis was put on Jeremy Corbyn’s meeting with the IRA by the Tories and media outlets including the Daily Mail, all of whom stated that this connection to terrorists made him unfit to lead the country. On the 31st May, Arlene Foster met with Ulster Defence Association boss, Jackie McDonald, just two days after Colin Horner was killed by the paramilitary group in front of his three-year-old son. Emma Pengally DUP MP for South Belfast was endorsed by the UDA-linked UPRG (Ulster Political Research Group). It’s important to note that in Stormont many parties, leaders, and MSPs have links to terrorism, and to condemn one set of terrorists without condemning them all is hypocritical.
Arlene Foster vowed to prevent any extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland in January 2016. Abortion is a devolved issue and currently, Northern Ireland still abides by the Offences against the Person Act of 1861. This outdated and anachronistic legalisation means that whilst Northern Irish women live in the UK, they cannot have a termination. Many are forced to travel, take pills ordered online or risk unsafe abortions: the DUP does not want this situation to change.
To say the DUP are not LGBTQ+ friendly is an understatement. Previous DUP health minster Edwin Poots consistently and illogically banned men who have sex with men from giving blood, even going against a High Court ruling. In November 2015, the Stormont assembly voted in favour of same sex marriage for the first time ever. However the DUP (ab)used a petition of concern to block the motion. Iris Robinson, previous DUP politician and wife of former DUP leader Peter Robinson, physically attacked a gay man in 2008 and later said that homosexuality is ‘viler’ than child sex abuse, amongst other comments.
Previous DUP leader Peter Robinson defended Pastor McConnell ‘s sermon in which Islam was described as a “doctrine spawned in hell”, when he said that he would also not trust Muslims following Sharia Law but would trust them ‘to go down to the shops for [him]’.
Whilst in office, former environment minister Sammy Wilson stated that he did not believe in climate change. He banned a TV advert that called for a cut in emissions, and recently commended Trump for his decision to pull out of the Paris agreement, describing the move as ‘very wise’.
The party also called for the return of the death penalty in 2011, with the party’s then 5 MPs tabling a motion to have it discussed on the floor of the House of Commons. In March 2016 Lord Morrow, the current housing minister, called for capital punishment for those that killed security force personnel, and Gregory Campbell backed these comments.
Safe to say, the DUP are well outdated and do not represent the people of Northern Ireland, let alone the UK. Britain, I hope you’re ready for regressive politics and flute bands!