A prominent DUP councillor has said that ordinary DUP members are “extremely confused and angered” by the party’s return to the Executive just an hour after news that the IRA still has guns.
In a ferocious assault on her own party leadership, Belfast councillor Ruth Patterson, a former UDR member, accused the party of having gone far beyond the concessions made by David Trimble.
She said that the DUP had “hounded David Trimble for far less”.
Alderman Patterson told the News Letter that she was making the comments even though she knew that speaking out would not be to her political benefit.
She said that “somebody has to be brave enough to stand up for those who sacrificed so much defending our beloved country”.
Last month Alderman Patterson was overlooked by the DUP leadership in favour of Peter Robinson’s former special adviser Emma Pengelly when the party chose a replacement for South Belfast MLA Jimmy Spratt.
Alderman Patterson said: “As a former member of the UDR, and someone who has been in touch with many innocent victims over recent days, it deeply saddens me and gives me cause for great concern that the party have decided to return to government with Sinn Fein, who the leadership of the DUP have themselves accepted are inextricably linked to the IRA.
“The electorate and many grassroots party members are understandably extremely confused and angered by this.
“The DUP are in government under the premise, declared by Peter Robinson in 2008, that the IRA Army Council had disbanded and that all weapons had been decommissioned.
“The report [on paramilitaries] makes very clear that not only are the IRA Army Council in existence but that many Sinn Fein members believe that they control the overarching strategy of a combined Sinn Fein/IRA strategy.
“Further to this it is clear the IRA also maintain various departments and have access to weapons.
“This blows the ‘no guns, no government’ and ‘sackcloth and ashes’ narrative out the window.”
Alderman Patterson said that the electorate “require honesty” and launched a savage critique of the party’s current stance.
“The leadership of the DUP began an in-out ‘protest’ on the basis the IRA still exist.
“A report was demanded and that report has revealed in all its glory that not only do the IRA still exist, but that the Army Council have access to weapons and are directing Sinn Fein strategy.
“This is far and beyond anything that David Trimble ever agreed too.
“I am a principled woman and many people will recall the video of myself when the Belfast Agreement was signed, being very upset and saying ‘God forgive them for what they have just done to Ulster’.
“What the DUP, the party I have loyally served for 20 years, have now done is worse than anything David Trimble ever did, and therefore I feel it is my moral and principled duty to speak out.
“We hounded David Trimble for far less and I would be a hypocrite if I became part of the silent majority that just went along with sitting in government with the surrogates of the IRA Army Council.
“These comments may not politically benefit me, but for the ex-servicemen and women who defended this country during 30-plus years of violence and slaughter and the innocent victims that suffered at the hands of the IRA, somebody has to be brave enough to stand up for those who sacrificed so much defending our beloved country.”
On Thursday the News Letter reported the comments of another DUP veteran, former Dungannon councillor Sammy Brush.
He said that it was “totally ridiculous” that Sinn Fein are in government while linked to the IRA and said that he was “disillusioned” with the current Stormont system.