A rough discourse on Northern Ireland Politics, the DUP, and the effect on the 2017 GE.
Okay, so I’m a citizen of Northern Ireland and have been for my entire life. I’m gonna start off by saying that I fall more on the nationalist side (typically associated with Catholics, but not always, and fans of the Republic of Ireland) and that the DUP are Unionist (fans of the union NI has with Britain) with a capital U. It could be argued (and I would argue this) that the DUP can be considered to be loyalist, which is an extreme version of Unionism, often associated with terrorist groups such as the UVF and UDA. It also can’t be ignored that there is a type of extreme Nationalism called Republicanism, and terrorist groups like the IRA are connected to this (and in particular, the political party Sinn Féin). Northern Irish politics is not divided into right/left wing, but instead nationalist/unionist.
So moving on, the DUP have had the largest vote in Northern Ireland for quite a long time, but the way the system works means that we have a forced coaltion, so the two biggest parties from opposite sides of the community sit in government together (that’s the DUP and Sinn Féin.) We had an early election called earlier in the year, and the DUP actually lost quite a few votes but are still the biggest party. However, our government isn’t currently functioning because the parties refuse to cooperate (although all the Members of the Legislative Assembly or MLAs are still getting paid on tax-payer money which sucks).
As well as having our own assembly, the parties in NI also put forward candidates for the General Election, as most major British parties don’t run here. This means that we as a nation have less influence over the UK political system as we only have 18 (or 19, I can’t remember) seats. However, we’re used to it so we just deal with it. This election, the DUP won 10 seats while Sinn Féin won the rest, meaning that the other 3 major parties in NI didn’t get any. The SDLP (moderate nationalist), UUP (moderate unionist) and Alliance (middle-ground), are 3 parties which are actually not extremist and are pretty cool. So, because Sinn Féin don’t take their Parliament seats due to the whole anti-British thing, the only party we have representing us is the DUP. And a lot of people aren’t happy about that (I don’t really want an extreme party representing me, ya feel?)
Okay, so now we’ve gotten to this morning, the results are in, the parliament is hung, and the liberal, more Labour-oriented voters are a mixture of happy and sad. So we didn’t win, but neither did the Tories, and the SNP, the Green Party and the Lib Dems aren’t going to form a coaltion with them, so who is? How will Theresa May possibly form a government now? Everything is okay, we’re pretty happy, and then the news comes in. The DUP are willing to go into coaltion with the Tories. Most of the responses were just, ‘who are the DUP?’, so I’m gonna try and break that down a little bit from what I can remember from studying NI politics last year and also just from living in this country.
The basic beliefs of the party tend to be focused on Christianity, which, as a Christian, I wouldn’t usually have a problem with, except, they’re kinda doing Christianity wrong. The old leader of the DUP, Rev. Ian Paisley, created this church called the Free Presbyterian (or Free-Ps) and it’s like, super traditional. Think, headcoverings for the women, don’t like music with instruments, mandatory prayer days, everything that the modern Church tends to avoid now-a-days. On top of this, the DUP are very anti-LGBT, they constantly block bills put forward to achieve equal marriage in Northern Ireland, and the old Health Minister didn’t allow gay people to donate blood in case it was like un-safe or something? Idk he was (is) an idiot. So there’s that, and then there’s the abortion issue. I personally don’t like the idea of abortion used as a contraceptive, but you’re really not allowed to get one at all here. The guy who does the like death certificates actually writes that it was an abortion on it, which is kinda rude. So yeah, even for a lot of health reasons, and in cases of rape, you can’t get an abortion, and that’s the DUP’s fault.
Peter Robinson, the old first Minister, wanted to cut welfare. The DUP have always wanted Brexit (the only NI party that did). When Belfast City Hall started only flying the union flag on the same days as the rest of the UK rather than every day, the DUP threw a shit-show and their supported started burning out cars and buildings and protesting for literally over a year. The RHI scandal that happened cost tax-payers millions of pounds to support unsustainable heating, and they didn’t even know they were paying for it. Many DUP ministers don’t believe in global warming. I could go on, but there’s so much to cover in this post. Look some stuff up, it’s everywhere.
So where does that leave us? Looking forward to the future, where it seems inevitable that the Tories and DUP will be in a coaltion, it’s hard to see how this can be of benefit to the future of the UK. I’m sorry that we as a country have inflicted our terrible politics on you, and I can only hope that the DUP will not have a negative effect on LGBT people, women, and the poor; the 3 groups of people that the DUP hate the most.