Belfast Telegraph

Suzanne Breen: It's stinging criticism from her own tribe, not Dublin, that will have Arlene Foster's ears burning red

DUP leader Arlene Foster (Niall Carson/PA)
DUP leader Arlene Foster (Niall Carson/PA)
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

Just last week the DUP was talking about building bridges with Dublin and advising everybody else to dial down the rhetoric.

Yesterday the party was back to ratcheting up the volume itself.

Within the space of just over an hour it released two furious statements on the Taoiseach and Tanaiste.

Nigel Dodds accused Leo Varadkar of making "outrageous and incendiary comments" in Sweden designed to "derail any realistic prospect of a deal".

Arlene Foster rounded on Simon Coveney for being "deeply unhelpful, obstructionist and intransigent". Pot and kettle sprang to mind. Not so long ago you got a medal in the DUP for being all three. While Dublin's virtual rejection of the Prime Minister's deal was always going to draw DUP ire, the chance to get hot and bothered was hugely helpful for the party.

It served as a distraction from the extensive criticism the Duppers are facing on all fronts for signing up to Boris' blueprint.

Business leaders have been scathing of the plan. Bringing trading arrangements to the Assembly floor for review every four years does not a stable economy make.

Sign In

But it is the strident opposition from unionist rivals which is deeply dangerous for the DUP. TUV leader Jim Allister has lambasted the party for disappearing its own red lines on an Irish Sea border. A TV clip on social media of Mrs Foster's pledge against such a border last year has so far had 35,000 views.

UUP peer Lord Empey quoted DUP 2017 pronouncements on the integrity of the UK single market.

"For the DUP to maintain that these new proposals are compatible with their previous statements is to take the wider unionist community for fools," he declared.

The DUP's main selling point of Johnson's deal is that it hands a veto to Stormont which means a promise of EU regulatory alignment on paper can be blocked in practice. But when the Prime Minister was quizzed in Parliament yesterday about what happens if power-sharing remains suspended, he was far from clear. The details have either not been worked out or else a deliberate decision for constructive ambiguity has been made.

Either way, the DUP's unionist critics can legitimately ask what exactly they've been doing during all these months of talks.

Politicians here of all shades have enough experience of Perfidious Albion to know it's essential to nail down details with the Brits.

The DUP has taken a kicking over supporting BoJo's blueprint. It will hope that unionist grassroots are by now so fed up with the endless Brexit wrangling that they just welcome the chance of a deal being done rather than paying too much attention to what compromises the guardians of the Union were prepared to make.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph