Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Internal difficulties bode ill for Robbo

Peter Robinson has been chosen by his party’s Assembly group to succeed Ian Paisley as leader. The undemocratic nature of this process aside, questions have been raised as to Robinson’s ability to unite the various factions in the DUP. I highlighted an excellent article by Alex Kane on this site, and yesterday on Everything Ulster, which argues that Robinson cannot heal the fissures which ultimately lead to Paisley’s resignation.

On Slugger O’Toole a post
which discusses Frank Millar’s updated biography of David Trimble, quotes a paragraph dealing with the future of the process, in which Trimble played such a pivotal role, from the book’s conclusion,

“[the DUP] expect Irish republicans and nationalists to take and sustain the cross community initiatives and outreach necessary to stabilise and secure Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom. That task falls to the party of the constitutional status quo. And to meet it, the new DUP will have to reinvent itself all over again.”

On a similar theme the Irish News greets Peter Robinson’s appointment with an editorial contending,

“his [Robinson’s] future lies in maintaining a partnership with nationalists based on mutual respect”.

In order to make the power sharing arrangements in Northern Ireland sustainable and workable, it requires more than simply running the institutions set up in the agreements. Something other than a sectarian carve-up is required. In order to strengthen the constitutional status of Northern Ireland, it is now necessary to build strong shared institutions, on a cross community basis and to instigate a society which reflects that shared ethos. The internal difficulties Robinson will have to overcome within his own party do not bode well for his chances of successfully taking up this challenge.

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