DUP MPs off the leash

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The bizarre antics of two of its MPs has provided further evidence of the disarray within the DUP.

Last weekend, North Antrim MP Ian Paisley joined famous blues singer Van Morrison in an angry chant that Health Minister Robin Swann, of the rival Ulster Unionist Party, was “dangerous”.

In video footage, taken at a function at the Europa Hotel, Van Morrison says “Robin Swann has got all the power, he is keeping us in this over 15 months” [in relation to Covid-19 restrictions] before repeatedly shouting: “Robin Swann is very dangerous”.

The footage shows him inviting the North Antrim MP on stage, saying “come on Junior, you want to do it with me?” before they both repeat the chant.

The episode drew widespread criticism.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood branded the performance as “embarrassing” and “pathetic”, while Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill criticised Paisley’s “night out”.

“We have to consider protecting the public and safeguarding against the concerns that we have,” she said.

Responding, Mr Paisley claimed his actions were “parody, comedy, banter and sarcasm” which “should not be blown out of all proportion”.

Meanwhile, DUP MP Sammy Wilson has drawn ridiculed for posing angrily with a plateful of sausages.

Posting on Twitter, the East Antrim MP held up a pile of fat, pale sausages beside a DUP sign reading “Ulster is British”. The scene was in reference to the EU safety checks on processed meat that remain in place in the north of Ireland, but which have been scrapped in Britain following Brexit.

Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill responded: “Sinn Fein are pro sausage sandwiches so don’t panic”.

“For all we know Wilson’s sausages could have easily been from Cookstown - which would at least make them entitled to both and Irish and British passports,” wrote commentator Tom Kelly

“Behind Mr Wilson was an old DUP poster saying Ulster is British. But Ulster is not British, Wilson clearly forgetting that his forefathers left a third of it behind to create a Protestant and unionist statelet called Northern Ireland.”

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