Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Power-hungry unionists no longer rule the roost

Sometimes you wonder if anything has really changed in Northern Ireland.

Is the power-sharing administration just really a sham, a political fix that the parties just had to go along with, but which obviously they don’t really have any heart in?

Power-sharing has always been the only form of administration here that had cross-community support. It has always been hailed as everyone’s second preferred option.

But it is obvious that the unionist parties, the DUP and UUP, don’t really subscribe to it fully. Yes, both have shared power with nationalists, but grudgingly.

Now that there is even a distant prospect that a nationalist could become First Minister — Sinn Fein would be favourites to be the largest party if an Assembly election happened anytime soon — the two unionist parties are starting to panic.

The fact that Martin McGuinness would be the likely First Minister in such a scenario gives the unionist parties an excuse for their opposition. How could we let a former self-confessed terrorist lead the country, they moralise.

But it wouldn’t really matter which nationalist went for the post, the unionists would still be against it. The days when unionists ruled the roost may be long gone, but not in the minds and hearts of many within the DUP and UUP to this day.

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