DUP pandemic WhatsApp messages revealed: 'How can they organise a united Ireland? They can't organise a p**s-up in a brewery'

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As part of the UK’s Covid inquiry, a fresh slew of messages, obtained from Edwin Poots’ phone, have been published.

The document, published on the inquiry’s website, is largely a WhatsApp exchange between Peter Weir (then the education minister, now Lord Weir of Ballyholme) and Edwin Poots (then the agriculture minister) on November 9, 2020, but also including Phil Weir (a special advisor at the time) and Gordon Lyons (then junior minister at the Executive Office)

Many such sets of messages have been released by the inquiry in recent days; this is just the latest batch.

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On Wednesday, the inquiry had heard how Michelle O’Neill had wiped her phone clean of messages instead of keeping them and handing them over to the inquiry.

The logo of the mobile messaging software Whatsapp displayed on a tabletThe logo of the mobile messaging software Whatsapp displayed on a tablet
The logo of the mobile messaging software Whatsapp displayed on a tablet

In the latest batch of messages, from Mr Poots’ phone, Phil Weir made reference to a “provisional start time” of 4.45pm for something.

Peter Weir replied: “Provisional? Phil you’re spending too much time with SF, you are even starting to use their language.”

Mr Poots chimed in: “Estimated time of commencement has a more British ring about it.”

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Joking aside they then talk of drafting some kind of statement with Deputy First Minister O’Neill (DfM), before Mr Lyons said that “Jim is on a rant so it could be another 30 mins” (possibly a reference to Jim Allister in the Assembly, but this is unclear).

Peter Weir: "DFM making a pigs ear of this”;

Edwin Poots: “Comes naturally”.

There is then talk about how Michelle O’Neill “doesn’t want to move without Nicola” (Nichola Mallon, then the infrastructure minister).

Peter Weir said: “How could these folk organise a United Ireland when they couldn’t organise a cappuccino in a non-licensed cafe let alone a piss-up in a brewery”.

The discussion continued, getting into how “Nicola” “doesn’t really understand this old veto issue”.

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“Was it not the Shcp [SDLP] that devised it?” replied Mr Poots.

Peter Weir: “Yes to quote the spirit of Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle: ‘I knew John Hume, I was a friend of John Hume, Senator Nichola Mallon you are no John Hume’.”

At one point during a discussion about the time of an upcoming meeting, and in a context that doesn’t appear obvious, Edwin Poots wrote: “Thanks. No surrender”

The exchange continues on obscurely for a little while before ending with Peter Weir saying: “Assume no Executive tonight then”.

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