Theresa May warned of a coalition of chaos propped up by extremist terrorist sympathisers. She just didn’t say she’d be leading it, writes PETER FROST
WELL Theresa May has done it, hopped into bed with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in order to prop up her minority government and try to save her job, at least for a day or so.
So who are these ultra-right-wing MPs from across the Irish Sea who come ready wrapped in the Union Jack and with a bunch of some of the most reactionary policies you could ever imagine?
The DUP opposes all abortions, even for rape victims; is rabidly homophobic, wanting a ban on same sex marriage; denies climate change; prefers the Bible to Darwin, claiming the Earth was made just 6,000 years ago.
Founder Ian Paisley once famously even declared that line-dancing was sinful.
Nice God-fearing Christians you might think, just right to prop up our vicar’s daughter’s weak and unstable efforts at making a government. You would be wrong.
Let’s take a quick look at a few of the scandals that have featured in its relatively short history since Paisley founded the party just 46 years ago.
Paisley invented his own political party: the DUP; his own church: the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster; as well as several of his own armed terrorist paramilitary groups, such as Ulster Resistance, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF). These groups murdered at least 400 people — mainly innocent Catholics during the Troubles.
Paisley brought the whole lot of his followers together under his banners with messages like: “The Pope is the Antichrist,” “Save Ulster from sodomy,” or more simply “No surrender.”
Today his son Ian Paisley Jr keeps his father’s memory and Christian fundamentalist politics very much alive. Sadly you don’t have to scratch far below the surface to discover a cesspit of hypocrisy.
Paisley’s Free Presbyterian Church and the DUP often share officers and leaders. One was David McConaghie who worked as an aide to DUP MP David Simpson in Portadown, Co Armagh.
McConaghie was also an elder in the church, a high-ranking Orangeman and leader of some of the DUP’s groups promoting creationism and the Earth being just 6,000 years old.
He was also a pervert and a voyeur who planted a camera in his DUP office lavatory to film his colleagues using the toilet.
The judge ruled he had done it for sexual gratification and both jailed him and put him on the sex offenders’ register for seven years.
Another DUP scandal to hit the headlines concerned Iris Robinson, wife of party leader Peter Robinson and a Westminster MP in her own right. This 59-year-old born again evangelical Christian resigned after an adulterous extra-marital affair with a teenager who she paid with local government grants.
Her husband, DUP leader until recently, was a well-known and much photographed paramilitary leader of Ulster Resistance in earlier days. Ulster Resistance collaborated with other unionist terrorist organisations to smuggle arms, including rocket launchers.
DUP leader Arlene Foster is up to her knees in cash as a key player in another scandal. She oversaw a renewable energy scheme that is set to cost the public purse almost £500 million.
The scheme paid applicants to use renewable energy. The rate paid was more than the cost of heating, mean
ing favoured applicants were making huge profits.
The political scandal first came to light in November 2016, by which point Foster had become Northern Ireland’s First Minister.
She refused to resign or stand aside. Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness resigned in protest. In the power-sharing government, McGuinness’s resignation meant that Foster was removed from her role as First Minister, which in turn has caused a long-term political stalemate.
Now let’s have a look at the 10 DUP Westminster MPs who will be propping up May’s minority government in return for a massive cash injection to their local infrastructure and a shift to the right in May’s domestic policies.
Nigel Dodds is leader of the DUP at Westminster. The high-ranking member of the Orange Order has been kicked out of the Commons for using unparliamentary language to attack Tory former Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers.
Ian Paisley Jr is well known for his homophobic views. “I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism,” he said back in 2007. “I think it is wrong.”
Jim Shannon topped the entire Westminster expenses league. His claims were five times greater than the second-highest claiming MP and 37 times greater than the average MP’s claim.
Sammy Wilson is known for his racist comments, his denial of climate change and his opinion that female MPs who breastfeed in the chamber of the House of Commons are exhibitionists.
Gavin Robinson at 32 is the youngest DUP MP who will prop up the Tories.
Gregory Campbell has supported the reintroduction of the death penalty. He was barred from the Northern Ireland Assembly for mocking the Irish language.
Emma Little Pengelly is the only woman in the DUP Westminster line-up. Her father Noel Little was a member of the Ulster Resistance described by the Belfast Telegraph as a gunrunner.
David Simpson is member of the Orange Order and believes in creationism. Opposing the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, he told MPs: “This is not the jurisdiction of this House, this is not the jurisdiction of this government of any European government or any government in the world. This is an ordained constitution of God.” His was the office toilet with the camera.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson was previously in the more moderate Ulster Unionist Party. He was Enoch Powell’s agent when Powell’s racism finally got too much for English Tories and Powell defected to Ulster.
Donaldson eventually quit the UUP and switched to the more hard-line DUP.
Paul Girvan sparked controversy in 2015 when he claimed scrap metal dealers should be armed with guns to protect themselves from Gypsies. Before that, he hit the headlines for saying he had no problem with the Irish tricolour being burnt on loyalist bonfires.
These then are the nine men and one woman in Westminster who May hopes will keep her in power.
One of May’s leading Tories was quick to spell out her doubts about the DUP. Ruth Davidson is leader of the Scottish Conservatives and about 10 times as popular as May with the Tory Party rank and file both north and south of Hadrian’s Wall.
She announced: “As a Protestant unionist about to marry an Irish Catholic woman, I told Theresa May that there were a number of things that count to me more than the Tory Party. One of them is country, one of the others is LGBTI rights.”
Davidson is believed to be just one of 19 gay Tory MPs elected last week. None of them is going to be very happy about May’s new bedfellows, and they aren’t the only ones by a long way.