Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Money had last word in Stormont discussions

I NEVER thought that the Ulster Unionist Executive had so much influence over the talks process and the future of the DUP.

But, however the DUP try to deny it, the defining moment of the past week was the refusal of the UUP executive to back an electoral pact with the DUP.

Many people have rightfully been asking: what changed between Monday, when 14 DUP MLAs refused to support the deal and Thursday evening, when they all acquiesced?

Answer: without a UUP/DUP pact the DUP was facing electoral annihilation. In other words, 36 P45s loomed large.

The hard men knew that, without a deal, the DUP was going to have to face the electorate and a defining moment was coming.

This wasn't going to be a sham "community consultation" - this was going to be real and they knew they daren't go near the real community. If they did, it would be meltdown.

So, in reality, the decision by the UUP executive forced the DUP to make the hard decision: parley with Sinn Fein or face the electorate. After Tuesday, there was no competition. When it comes down to principles or salaries, salaries always win and the DUP have rolled over to keep the money.

To paraphrase Gerry Adams, "Well done, Peter. Thanks for stepping up to the next staging post."

RICHARD WILSON

Ballynahinch, Co Down

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