Could the Democratic Unionist Party’s mistakes pave the way for a united Ireland?

The leading voice of unionism in Northern Ireland seems to have lost its way, writes John Rentoul

Saturday 29 May 2021 21:30
<p>Edwin Poots, the new DUP leader, with Paula Bradley, his deputy</p>

Edwin Poots, the new DUP leader, with Paula Bradley, his deputy

At the time of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 there was a saying that the republicans were too clever to admit that they had lost and the unionists too stupid to realise that they had won. I was reminded of it last week when the Democratic Unionist Party managed to make its crisis worse with a bout of unscheduled bloodletting.

Is it possible that the DUP’s mistakes might not only destroy the party but help pave the way for a united Ireland? The coup against Arlene Foster, the former DUP leader who will be first minister of Northern Ireland for a few more weeks, was “very brutal” and “just awful”, she told the Financial Times. But it has also been damaging to the party and to the unionist cause.

On Friday, party representatives met for what was supposed to be a formal endorsement of Edwin Poots as the new leader. But the meeting descended into acrimony, with a proposal of a secret ballot on Poots’s leadership narrowly rejected, and his election finally confirmed by a show of hands.

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