Jude Collins

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

All MLAs on deck!...Oh OK, 60% of you then.

It looks as if Peter Robinson has been restored, if not to rude health, at least to the leadership of the DUP. The announcement that he’s gone back to captaining what looks suspiciously like a political Titanic also made it clear he did so on the advice of his solicitor, Paul Maguire, who says he did nothing wrong. Mmmm. Why do we need to know the name of his solicitor? And when we know it, are we meant to draw any conclusions? Don’t ask me – I only live here. But I think the general public are pretty convinced he has some explaining to do, regardless of what Mr Maguire may opine. By the way – wasn’t Peter supposed to be looking after his wife in her ill-health? Maybe she’s better. Or someone else is looking after her.

Another mystery: how many, if any, DUP MLAs voted agin the settlement Peter Robinson brought to them t’other night? The BBC seems pretty adamant the number was fourteen, although they did their case little service by getting Tuesday and Monday mixed up, allowing wily DUPers like Sammy Wilson and Gregory Campbell to duck and weave as well as stonewall about whether the party was (hopelessly?) split.

The scariest part of the DUP story is how quickly bad stuff can happen – from hero party to zero party in a matter of days. At the turn of the year the DUP was big and brash and laughing hard at how it was stymieing Sinn Fein at every turn. Here we are at the start of February and the DUP are on the ropes, bleeding from more wounds than we once thought it had places. And Shaun Woodward isn’t doing much to staunch them. In the British House of Commons today, he pressed home the point that British patience isn’t endless, that offers of £800,000 ( I thought it was a billion? Cheesh) won’t be on the table forever, and that those who allow things to fall apart will be punished by the electorate. Now where have I heard that before? Ah yes - a few short weeks ago, Peter Robinson was telling us that if Sinn Fein walked away, they’d suffer the wrath of ‘the community’. The question sits up and begs for an answer: who’s suffering now?

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