Democratic Unionists in Northern Ireland become election key

Marsha Scott
June 10, 2017

With the DUP providing the Conservatives a narrow, but crucial, majority in Parliament, it could have an outsized influence.

May has so far not commented on the exact nature of the DUP-Conservative arrangement, nor on whether the relationship will impact on power-sharing negotiations.

Following a meeting with the Queen, Mrs May said she would form a government to "lead Britain forward at this critical time" and secure a successful Brexit deal that worked "for everybody".

The informal coalition is likely to operate under a "confidence and supply" system.

The chair of its Education Committee, Mervyn Story, and a number of other DUP members are part of the Caleb Foundation, which is a leading creationist lobby group in Northern Ireland.

Early in his political career, the colourful cleric became a byword for bigotry and intolerance of Catholics. The party has also criticised May for DUP deal.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has since sought assurances from May that any deal with the DUP would not affect LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and/or Intersex) rights across the UK.

Reaction to the polls came in fast, with a Labour spokesperson telling the Independent the result would be "extraordinary" if it played out and would punish the Tories for "taking the British people for granted". And a former education spokesman, Mervyn Storey, is a "young earth" creationist who believes the world is less than 10,000 years old. And Paisley once declared the country and western style of dancing as "sinful". The DUP is now led by Arlene Foster, and is the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

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But in one of the most sensational nights in British electoral history, a resurgent Labour Party denied her an outright win, throwing the country into political turmoil.

The DUP in general favors a "soft Brexit" rather than the "hard Brexit" sought by May, and it wants to preserve its open border with the Republic of Ireland, an European Union member.

The DUP's deputy leader Nigel Dodds confirmed that the party's condition for shoring up the new Tory government is an assurance that Northern Ireland will not be accorded special European Union status after Brexit that will keep it distinct from the rest of the United Kingdom.

On the surface, the Irish unionists have much in common with the Tories.

In the South Belfast constituency won by the DUP, voters expressed dismay at the obliteration of the centre ground.

"If the United Kingdom only improves by this much at each election, we will not see equal representation in parliament until 2062", she said.

"If they are going to squeeze out some concession from the Tories, is that concession going to frustrate Sinn Fein to the point where the prospect of devolution disappears and there is direct rule from Westminster again in Northern Ireland".

During the Northern Irish peace process, they stood their ground against British prime ministers, Irish taoisigh (prime ministers) and United States presidents.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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