By Brian Feeney (for Irish News)
Every few days some DUP MLA or MP, or someone who’s both, comes on the airwaves to announce how the DUP is going to monitor Sinn Féin, or make sure Sinn Féin reaches democratic standards, or hold Sinn Féin to account or decide whether or not justice and policing powers can be devolved, and so on in that vein.
Strangely, they manage to get away with this superior attitude. Interviewers seem to accept that DUP members can speak with some authority on such matters.
For example, Jeffrey Donaldson appears to believe that his assembly committee will be critical in deciding whether summer 2008 is the right time to transfer justice powers to the assembly, or at least that’s the pose he struck on BBC at the weekend. Yet the DUP leader has already committed the party to that date and it will happen and Jeffrey Donaldson knows it will.
Besides, how would anyone in the DUP, no matter how sanctimonious they may sound, know anything about policing and justice, let alone democratic standards?
The very thought would make a cat laugh.
The holier-than-thou-stance the DUP has adopted since becoming top dog in unionism has successfully airbrushed away its unsavoury past. In fact the DUP is a party oozing with hypocrisy.
This is a party which refused to talk to anyone in Sinn Féin but happily voted for members of the PUP in Belfast City Council while the UVF was engaged in a campaign of sectarian murder. The party even helped elect a PUP member lord mayor at the height of the UVF campaign. DUP councillors regularly hob-nobbed with senior UVF members in Belfast’s lord mayor’s parlour for drinks after council meetings.
Both UVF and UDA men have had dual membership of the DUP.
DUP members still happily march behind UDA and UVF bands whose drums are emblazoned with the names of men who killed Catholics, solely because they were Catholics. In elections the DUP remains the party of choice of UDA members. Why would that be?
Perhaps because of their love of justice and policing?
As for democratic standards, well, it’s not simply a matter of sharing power with nationalists, something the DUP has still not officially subscribed to despite sitting round the table at Stormont with SF and the SDLP.
It’s a matter of the DUP’s whole attitude to the principles of modern liberal society as it has developed in Europe since the Enlightenment and inspired revolution in the US and France and produced democracy all over Europe - principles like religious toleration, the separation of Church and state, meritocracy, abolishing hereditary privilege, not to mention the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
The DUP opposes all of these principles and much else besides. In short it is not recognisable as a modern political party.
Being led by a clergyman self-appointed for life does not do anything to demonstrate the party’s democratic credentials.
The attitude of people such as Jeffrey Donaldson and Gregory Campbell, and many other DUP figures who appear on TV, gritting their teeth at having to be civil to Sinn Féin people is best described in an Afrikaans word - Staatsvolk.
It means the people who own the state as the Afrikaners did.
Not anymore they don’t.
Nor does the DUP, even though it still hasn’t come to terms with its loss of caste.
With the DUP, as with the deposed Staatsvolk in South Africa, there is no repentance for discrimination, both political and economic, which, given the opportunity, members exercise still in councils.
There is no repentance for the collusion between the police and UDR and loyalist murder gangs, some of whose members the DUP knew as friends.
Any danger of the great party of Laurna Order giving evidence to the police about its knowledge of loyalist killings?
On the contrary, Raymond McCord stood in the recent elections to protest at the inaction of unionist politicians. Yet it constantly repeats demands for Sinn Féin members to give evidence about IRA killings.
The truth is that DUP double standards are nauseating.
Let’s hear no more nonsense about keeping any other party up to scratch on any matter.
Let’s hear someone in the DUP admit they are part of the problem.