DUP right not to respond in kind to Sinn Fein red lines

Morning View
Morning View

The DUP said yesterday that it had no red lines for the resumption of Stormont.

This is in contrast to the way in which Sinn Fein has approached the talks, issuing both a specific red line on refusing to share power with Arlene Foster, and threatening red lines over a host of other issues.

At her party’s manifesto launch yesterday, Mrs Foster said the most important issue at this election “is not devolution but the Union itself”.

This is might be an obvious statement, but it is nonetheless timely and welcome.

The Union is in peril because of aggressive nationalism in Scotland and Ireland, which is determined to take advantage of Brexit to try to break up the UK.

If there has been any political lesson to draw from recent years, it is that pandering to such nationalism does not work.

Sinn Fein is further emboldened by its recent strong Assembly result. Unless something unexpected happens in this election, the party is likely to emerge as confident and demanding as ever.

The DUP has followed the right path in response to republican demands, and not been goaded to replying in kind but rather made clear their commitment to Stormont.

Mrs Foster carefully avoided stating that she would never step aside but drew cheers from her candidates when she said that the DUP had won the recent election and that it would decide who would be first minister.

For all the temperate language of yesterday’s launch, the incessant pressure from London and Dublin to strike a deal, and the tight deadlines for one, rise the risk of a rushed deal.

The Conservatives eased that pressure this week by making clear the joint authority is not on the cards.

Over the next week, unionists have to concentrate first on a getting out a large combined unionist vote. As Alex Kane suggests in today’s election supplement, that is the best riposte to Sinn Fein’s push for Irish unity.