Tories are forming a coalition with a party backed by terrorists
UDA is a violent loyalist paramilitary group, which is still active
today. Just weeks ago, it murdered a man in broad daylight in
Northern Ireland – he was shot dead in a Sainsbury’s car park in
front of horrified shoppers and his three-year-old son
Irish politics has been thrust from the sidelines into centre stage
this morning, as the UK woke up to a hung parliament and a
DUP-Conservative coalition. After a disastrous election for Theresa
May in which her gamble failed to secure the majority she sought, the
obscure Northern Irish party’s support is now required for her to
enter No 10.
partnership between the Conservatives and the DUP will be deeply
harmful and destabilising for the peace process in Northern Ireland,
which is now being risked by the Tories in an unconscionable way in
order to retain power.
striking about the Conservatives’ new stablemates is that after
running a campaign based on fearmongering and whipping up false
hysteria about Jeremy Corbyn and his alleged IRA sympathies, the
Conservatives will enter government with the DUP, which is backed by
the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).
UDA is less known in England than the IRA, largely because they
killed Northern Irish Catholics during the Troubles, which didn’t
make the news as often as the killing of English people or security
personnel. The UDA is a violent loyalist paramilitary group, which is
still active today. Just weeks ago, it murdered a man in broad
daylight in Northern Ireland. The man was shot dead in a Sainsbury’s
car park in front of horrified shoppers and his three-year-old son.
UDA backed the DUP in this election by issuing a statement in support
of the party’s South Belfast candidate Emma Little Pengelly,
“strongly urging” people to back her. The news drew sharp
criticism from political opponents, including former Northern Ireland
Justice Minister David Ford, who said: “Arlene Foster needs to make
clear if her party accepts an endorsement by a group closely
connected to the UDA. The electorate, particularly in South Belfast
where this endorsement was given, deserve to know.
is now 2017 – paramilitaries should not even exist, never mind be
giving ringing endorsements of political candidates.”
is no suggestion that the DUP actively sought the endorsement from
the group or that it in turn supports the UDA.
concerns were further fuelled when it emerged that the DUP’s leader
Arlene Foster met with the UDA’s chief during the election
campaign, just 48 hours after the murder of a local man in a
supermarket car park. She defended the meeting, saying that the party
did not support any terrorist groups or actively seek endorsement
from them: “If people want to move away from criminality, from
terrorism, we will help them to do that, but anyone who is engaged in
this sort of activity should stop, should desist, and if they don’t
they should be open to the full rigour of the law.”
challenged on the issue during the live TV debates, the DUP’s
Jeffrey Donaldson said that the party would “divorce” itself from
any association with terrorist or paramilitary groups.
considering all the Conservatives’ talk about Corbyn and the IRA,
it is now they who are entering coalition with a political party that
has been backed by a terrorist organisation.
a move will have dire consequences for the peace process. In so
doing, the Conservatives are essentially telling the DUP that they
will turn a blind eye to it returning to the dark days, when Northern
Irish politics was intertwined with bloody violence. This may
embolden paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland who feel that they
have been given a get-out-of-jail-free card from the Tories’ deal
with the DUP.
uncomfortable coalition of the Conservatives and the DUP has many
more worrying implications for the peace process. An essential
element of the peace process has been that the British government is,
ostensibly at least, a neutral broker in talks between the Catholic
and Protestant parties. Now however, the power balance has been
permanently toppled as the DUP hold the cards in deciding whether the
Conservatives remain in office. They no longer have any credibility
of being neutral brokers in the Northern Ireland peace process. This
will alienate Catholic/nationalist people in Northern Ireland who can
no longer consider their position and status as equal in the British
amid all the general-election buzz it has been easy for many to
forget that power-sharing had collapsed in Northern Ireland. Stormont
fell in January when Sinn Féin pulled out of government with the
DUP. Fresh elections were called in March in a bid to elect a new
government willing to share power, but the same parties were returned
and they have continued to refuse to come back to power-sharing. The
latest deadline for an agreement is the end of this month.
a DUP-Conservative coalition, any chance of resolve is reduced even
further. The DUP has little incentive to return to Stormont if it has
far more power and influence than it could have ever dreamed of
across the Irish Sea at Westminster. Similarly, Sinn Féin (which is
vehemently anti-Conservative) is likely to feel alienated and
mistrustful of the Conservatives and may boycott talks.
she called the general election, it was clear that Theresa May had
little idea of the damage such a poll could cause Northern Ireland at
a crucial time for power-sharing. By entering into a coalition with
the DUP, it is even more apparent that she does not consider peace or
stability in Northern Ireland a priority. Instead, she is sacrificing
years of work on the peace process in order to get the keys to No 10.
the last several months rivals and commentators have repeatedly
criticised the Democratic Unionist Party for its ever-closer ties
with various British terrorist factions in the north-east of Ireland.
In particular, the DUP’s public appearances with the Ulster Defence
Association or its representatives, a banned militant group in the
United Kingdom, have drawn much condemnation. In the view of some
observers these actions seem purposefully designed to attract the
approval of hardline pro-UK voters in the disputed region. In the
aftermath of last March’s shock performance by Sinn Féin and to a
lesser extent the Social Democratic and Labour Party in the Stormont
crisis election, pro-union sentiment has coalesced around the idea of
communal unity. While the DUP and the competing Ulster Unionist Party
have declined to stand candidates against each other in certain
Westminster consistences, to maximise the unionist ballot, the former
body has also reached out to the violent fringes of unionism.