Peter Robinson had a soft landing on his return from his luxury holiday, courtesy of the Belfast Telegraph. Rather than opening himself up to an interview, where he could be asked difficult questions, the Belfast Telegraph- which is rapidly becoming the DUP’s version of An Phoblacht- presented the illustrious leader with a free ride to write his own opinion piece. No questions asked, and unsurprisingly none answered.
The DUP leader devoted much of his “opinion piece” to attacking the Ulster Unionist Party, clearly feeling the pressure after Mike Nesbitt blind-sighted them. The DUP have filled the media with condemnation of the UUP for the past few days. The bluff and bluster from the DUP is a transparent attempt to muddy the waters and buy them time- time to think how they can somehow create enough ambiguity or find some mechanism that will allow them to cling to power alongside the IRA surrogates, Sinn Fein. How ironic is it that the same DUP that hounded David Trimble from office over disputes around IRA decommissioning, is now poised to take another Executive ministry, courtesy of an IRA murder.
The “opinion piece” does however prove one piece of advice, that you would normally hear from your grandparents- liars need to have a good memory. It is worth reprinting an extract from Peter Robinson’s piece where he describes, in his own words, what was agreed at Stormont House;
“The agreement covered welfare reform, the budget and corporation tax. It dealt with parades, flags and the past. In addition it set out changes in the way both the Assembly and the Executive operate including arrangements for forming an official opposition.”
In the midst of waxing lyrical about the Stormont House agreement, and lamenting the failure to implement it, Robinson has let the cat out of the bag. On the 17 February 2015 the BBC carried a story with the headline- attributed to a quote from Peter Robinson- saying “DUP did not negotiate parades during talks.” The First Minister is further quoted within the same story saying “There were no negotiations on parading, that’s why the Government had to put forward their own proposal.” The DUP also took a swipe at TUV leader Jim Allister, who had joined with the PUP, UKIP and independent Loyalists in questioning whether the DUP and UUP had been “double dealing” on the issue of parades. Robinson described this suggestion as “silly”.
It is remarkable to simply contrast the BBC interview with today’s opinion piece. It illuminates the sheer duplicity at the heart of the DUP approach to Government and it also shows the contempt with which the DUP hold ordinary grassroots Unionists and loyalists.
In a recent opinion piece I wrote for the Long Kesh Inside Out website, in relation to the IRA murder of Kevin McGuigan, I referred to a litany of examples of IRA activity that had previously been denied by Sinn Fein, added the McGuigan murder to the list and remarked “no one believed them then, and no one believes them now.” The very same words could be said of the DUP, who along with Sinn Fein prop up an Assembly based upon murder, lies and appeasement. Fine bedfellows, they do make.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Peter Robinson has proved- by his own words- that the DUP are engaging in side deals and blatantly lying to their own electorate. They betrayed the grassroots loyalist community over North Belfast. Robinson asked the Secretary of State to announce some form of “inquiry” into parading to allow him leverage to enter the Stormont House talks. Little over twenty four hours after the talks concluded, the Secretary of State withdrew the parading proposal. Of course, the DUP knew this was going to happen, and all the bluff and bluster in the world couldn’t pull the wool over people’s eyes.
Suzanne Breen recalled in her Sunday Life column yesterday how the DUP stood outside the Waterfront Hall in 2000 and sang “What shall we do with the traitor Trimble, early in the morning. Burn, burn, burn the traitor…” What a remarkable turnaround less than two decades later.
Today’s memory lapse by the First Minister is uncharacteristic, usually the DUP leader is a master at covering his own tracks and cloaking his lies in enough spin to make his alternative version of how he came to lie, sound plausible. Today the old saying “a liar needs a good memory” epitomises Peter Robinson’s propaganda column in the Belfast Telegraph.
Perhaps the memory lapse by Robinson is indicative of the pressure he is feeling. David Trimble suffered from the same strains as his political career came to an end. There is, however, one difference between Peter Robinson and David Trimble. The DUP used every trick in the book to blacken David Trimble’s name and hound him from office. Peter Robinson has put the noose around his own neck.
As the NAMA storm comes hurtling at a rate of knots towards DUP Headquarters, with a deepening political crisis coming from the other direction, Peter Robinson is in danger of finding himself smack-bang in the middle of a perfect storm.
The UUP are doing to Robinson what he done to them. Internal opponents within his own party are rapidly boxing him in; they will-sooner rather than later- do to him what he done to Ian Paisley. To add to Robinson’s crisis, his business associates and ‘fixers’ are running for the hills and sticking the knives in each other’s back in a bid to wash their hands of NAMA and other dealings they have benefited from.
The House of Cards is about to come tumbling down in Biblical fashion and one can imagine that the founding father of the DUP, if he were still here, would have a few words for his former friend who betrayed him so unmercilessly. The “Big man” would most likely lean back in his chair, chuckle and simply say “what one sows, so shall they reap. It’s biblical.”
Mene, Mene, tekel, upharsin- Mr Robinson.