DUP deal-making poses too great a threat to Northern Ireland

DUP deal-making poses too great a threat to Northern Ireland

THERE is understandable concern around Theresa May’s plans to do a deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists in order to support a minority government which allows her to retain her position as Prime Minister.

Most worryingly, it is a partnership with the potential to pose a very real threat to the fragile political stability currently being experienced in Northern Ireland and have a devastating impact on the future for the hard-won peace process which has transformed the region over past two decades.

Currently the British and Irish Governments act as non-partisan mediators between Sinn Féin, the DUP and all parties within the Northern Ireland Assembly.

For the British Government to now create a political alliance with one of those parties clearly poses a conflict of interest, at the very least, and, at its worst, could derail the progress made through the Good Friday Agreement and the establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly entirely.

A Tory-DUP pact is also a partnership that brings into mainstream British politics a party which is opposed to societal ideals widely held by the British public – such as rights for the LGBT community and on abortion and environmental values around climate change.

The DUP is openly homophobic, anti-gay marriage, anti-abortion and refutes climate change in favour of a pro-creationist standpoint.

In the days that have passed since May’s DUP deal-making began, such concerns have been voiced by cross-party politicians, political analysts and the British public alike.

On Friday Tony Blair’s former political advisor Alastair Campbell called the proposed deal “sordid, disgraceful and dirty”.

His sentiments have been echoed by Labour’s former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain, who called it a “very, very dangerous move at a time of crisis at Stormont”.

And on Sunday Taoiseach Enda Kenny called Ms May to raise his concerns for the future of the Good Friday Agreement should the partnership go ahead.

Criticism has also come from within May’s own party, as a senior Conservative source was reported over the weekend as saying: “More and more colleagues are becoming distinctly uneasy about the idea of a formal pact with the DUP.”

Members of the public have also been making their opposition to this partnership heard, many via an online petition calling for Theresa May to resign rather than enter into a DUP pact.

That petition had reached more than 700,000 signatures to date.

And yet Mrs May continues to pursue this deal, with a Downing Street spokesperson confirming that “the Democratic Unionist Part have agreed to the principles of an outline agreement to support the Conservative government on a confidence and supply basis when parliament returns [this week]”.

Ms May’s arrogant and egotistical attempt to wrestle back control of the country through a hastily made deal with DUP, despite the very real consequences it may have for the people and politics of Northern Ireland, and of Britain in general, is too high a price to pay to simply allow her to save face following a disastrous general election result.

The Prime Minister would serve the people of Britain – and Northern Ireland in particular – far better now by listening to them and acting on the messages they have sent her through the election result and all that has followed since.