Analysis: DUP reshuffle another move away from Paisleyism

First Minister Peter Robinson with his new Ministerial team Simon Hamilton, Arlene Foster, Jonathan Bell, Mervyn Storey and Michelle McIlveen pictured  at Stormont Castle, Belfast.''Picture: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
First Minister Peter Robinson with his new Ministerial team Simon Hamilton, Arlene Foster, Jonathan Bell, Mervyn Storey and Michelle McIlveen pictured at Stormont Castle, Belfast.''Picture: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Yesterday’s DUP reshuffle signals another small move away from the DUP of old.

Three of the DUP’s five-strong ministerial team are now former Ulster Unionists, while just one, Mervyn Storey, would be seen as from the old Paisleyite DUP.

Rather than even give a nod to the ‘old DUP’ by putting one of their number in as a junior minister,Peter Robinson has given that post to another young MLA from his wing of the party, Michelle McIlveen.

Despite the DUP’s election campaign being dominated by ‘moral issues’, one of the most significant developments during recent weeks has been Mr Robinson’s signal (though subsequently garbled somewhat) that his MLAs would for the first time be allowed a free vote on abortion and then his move to effectively state that the party had no position on homosexuality (although it still opposes gay marriage).

With the electorate dispatching William McCrea and electing Gavin Robinson, the subtle shift in the DUP has accelerated over recent days; Mr Robinson’s appointments confirm that trend.