Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.31 18 Jun 2021


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The departure of Edwin Poots as DUP leader in Northern Ireland after just 20 days means the party is heading for self-destruction.

That is according to commentator Joe Brolly, who was speaking after DUP members turned against their new leader.

It was after he nominated Paul Givan to become First Minister there despite their protests.

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Party members had wanted Mr Poots to hold off on putting a name forward, due to their anger over the British government agreeing to introduce an Irish Language Act in the North if Stormont failed to do so.

Mr Brolly told The Hard Shoulder the DUP's reason for being, and its approach to issues, is outdated.

"I've been making this point for a long time - the DUP is a cult.

"It was created in the image of Ian Paisley, and it was one man's megalomania, one man's outlook on the world.

"But like all cults, sooner or later it self-destructs because by definition it doesn't adapt to a changing world.

"And that's what we're seeing with the DUP, they're trapped in this fantasy of 'Never, never, never' and 'Ulster is British' and all of that.

"All the social issues - gay blood being an abomination - and all the things that we know about.

"And it's just fallen apart".

'Very little room for manoeuvre'

Mr Brolly said former DUP leader Arlene Foster was removed for abstaining on a vote to ban gay conversion therapy.

But he said such a vote "was only necessary because it's something that the DUP have historically, staunchly supported.

"This wacky notion that people who are gay can be converted by this pseudo-science.

"So because she abstained on that, in the tiniest move towards some sort of secular reasonable politics, she was mercilessly deposed.

"And then Edwin agrees to an Irish Language Act, which after all was agreed in 2006 in order to get Stormont up and running.

"And he's mercilessly deposed - and Edwin would be seen as the old-style Evangelical embodiment of the DUP.

"So you can see that there's very little room for manoeuvre here, and what you're seeing is the death spiral of the DUP".

Mr Brolly said another interesting facet is the inner-workings of the party itself.

"The other feature of it that I think is interesting is that they absolutely loathe each other.

"The glee that they took in the destruction of Arlene - one minute they were posing for photographs with her smiling... the next minute they knifed her in the back happily".

And he said that the DUP was created in a different time, for a different purpose.

"You have to understand: this is not a political project, this is a project that's about self-interest.

"When Ian Paisley said 'Never, never, never' and 'We'll spill blood to keep Ulster British'... it was in the middle of the Troubles.

"The Troubles are gone - the North is the most peaceful country, in terms of domestic crime, in western Europe.

"So instead of us taking advantage of the fact that we've got the best of both worlds, with Brexit for example... what has happened now is they've got franked up in the old dogmas of 'Never, never, never'.

"The reality is that 'No' is the only safe word, and so there's not going to be any progress".

The future of the DUP?

Mr Brolly said he sees division in the party's future.

"It's difficult to see how the DUP can occupy any modern space in politics.

"Therefore I think what will happen inevitably is that it will split into the hardline Evangelical party that it is at its core, traditionally.

"And then the other side is going to have to decide 'Do we run with the party simply to get votes?'

"This is all reaching a tipping point now, because next year they're no longer going to be the main party.

"And then they're going to have to confront their own mortality".

Joe Brolly: DUP 'cult' is heading for self-destruction

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Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney earlier said the DUP revolt was "deeply destabilising" for the region.

He told Newstalk Breakfast: "They're deeply destabilising for an executive and government in Northern Ireland that needs the opposite of that.

"The last thing Northern Ireland needs now is an election in the short-term.

"There’s due to be an election next May, but there's a lot of work to be done between now and then."

Main image: Former Gaelic football all-Ireland winner Joe Brolly is seen at Stormont in Belfast, Northern Ireland for a public consultation on organ donation in 2013. Picture by: Paul Faith/PA Archive/PA Images

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DUP Edwin Poots Irish Language Act Joe Brolly Northern Ireland Stormont The Hard Sholder

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