Can unionists trust the DUP?

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CHRISTOPHER Stalford of the DUP poses the wrong question (News Letter, February 15).

What people really need to know is, can unionists trust the DUP?

For decades, the DUP denounced anyone who was willing to share power with peaceful nationalists such as Gerry Fitt or John Hume. They campaigned with posters bearing the slogan ‘Smash Sinn Fein’, yet, as soon as they saw the possibility of DUP power and taking the post of First Minister, the DUP were only too willing to embrace power-sharing with Sinn Fein.

Some of their voters were briefly upset at this betrayal of everything the DUP had ever stood for, but the DUP are wonderful at using tough language and symbols to distract their voters’ attention from their total failure to achieve anything, other than the destruction of other unionists.

The DUP were able to quietly accept flying the Union Flag only on designated days at Stormont, where they held the highest office, and in other councils such as Lisburn and Ballymoney, but when another pro-Union party such as the Alliance Party defeated their leader in East Belfast they saw the flags issue as an opportunity to crush their opposition. Meekly accepting the same flag flying policy as Alliance over Stormont did not prevent the DUP from distributing 40,000 leaflets and causing a crisis in East Belfast in an effort to regain their credibility with their former supporters.

The DUP were sharp enough to know that the flag protests would go nowhere, just as they always knew the Drumcree protests were going nowhere.

It was admitted at the party conference just months ago that persuading Catholics to support the Union is crucial to our future within the UK, and the DUP know the Alliance Party were always uniquely successful at providing a home for pro-Union Catholics. But the future of the Union is less important to the DUP than electoral success.

DUP power depends on crushing other unionist parties. They boasted they would ‘Smash Sinn Fein’, but they focused instead on smashing David Trimble and the UUP. Today they are in partnership with Sinn Fein and are intent on smashing the Alliance Party.

We can rely on the DUP to attack other pro-Union parties, but can we trust them with anything else?


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