The sham of the latest DUP announcement is as transparent as it is duplicitous.
The DUP have said they have left Arlene Foster in post as a ‘gatekeeper’ to stop any others making bad decisions in the coming days. They have also made her acting First Minister for the same reason.
Let’s look at the out workings of that. The resignations of all ministerial posts take seven days to come into effect- therefore the DUP could simply have re-nominated after seven days and kept the ball rolling. The Executive won’t meet and departments are autonomous, so no one could have made any decisions on issues pertaining to departments where ministers have resigned. Finance would simply have been handled by Civil Servants over the next seven days. So the DUP notion of having to leave a gatekeeper, is a blatant lie.
If the stated aim was simply to hold the fort, then what was the purpose of Peter Robinson “stepping aside”? It makes not a blind bit of difference whether it was he or Arlene Foster who was First Minister. Had Peter Robinson resigned then Martin McGuiness would have been booted out office and an election process would have autmatically been kick started.
The truth is that the DUP haven’t a clue what they are doing. Peter Robinson had already agreed to leave before the end of September so he has also used this situation to accelerate that process.
In the meantime Arlene Foster has been left in Finance for one reason only, and that is quite simply to prevent any civil servants releasing any NAMA information to the Finance Committee inquiry over the next seven days.
The Fermanagh MLA will also become acting First Minister so as to ease Peter Robinson out the back door but by the same token Robinson will avoid resigning, for the time being, because the DUP are petrified of an election.
The strategic move yesterday by the DUP was, as I have said, a three strand approach. Ease Peter Robinson out, avoid an election and protect the party from the release of papers pertaining to NAMA.
The issue for the DUP is that they have only bought themselves time, seven days to be precise, as it stands. The issues haven’t gone away.
They may be able to lock the locks of the Finance Department, but they can’t stop the clock.
They may be able to stall an election, but eventually it will come. And the DUP can’t bear to face the electorate as a weak party in the face of IRA murder. So it’s likely it will have to come sooner rather than later.
The DUP are in serious trouble. Robinson’s last throw of the dice was pragmatic and ruthless. But it is simply a stop gap.