The now infamous party were previously lurking in the shadows and were an entirely unbeknownst evil to the British public. Their repressive regime was confined to Northern Ireland until recently when Theresa May reached a settlement with Arlene Foster in a pathetic attempt to keep two struggling governments in power. Foster returned to Ireland with more than £1bn in her pocket to spend on Northern Irish infrastructure as the party saw fit and May secured their votes on key issues. This sudden turn subsequent to the snap election, which saw a colossal failure for the Tories, it has left many people with one question; who even are the DUP?
The answer is that the DUP is an ultraconservative, inhumane party who crawled from the gutter and flourished during the Troubles in the north. This was a time of extreme tension and terrorism on both the loyalist and republican side, whose violence erupted in tragic and unnecessary deaths. The DUP have a less than stellar history, associated with loyalist terrorists, gerrymandering and the oppression of Catholic citizens that lead to huge suffering. The DUP is currently in negotiations with Sinn Fein, a major Republican party headed by Gerry Adams (former IRA member), in order to form a coalition government in Stormont. Northern Ireland has a tragic and extremely complex history with peace maintained in several treaties including the Good Friday Agreement that is now threatened by the deal struck by the Conservatives and the DUP. Tensions are rising as lawyers scramble to put together cases that accuse the deal as infringing on the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and thus cannot go through.
Let’s return to the DUP. Founded by Ian Paisley (who claimed that line dancing is a sin that encourages lust), the party runs on extreme and out-dated attitudes that effectively prohibit equality. Their majority (including part leader Arlene Foster) are staunch creationists and Free Presbyterians who are part of the Caleb Foundation, a fundamentalist pressure group. They believe that the creation of the world was a divine act rather than scientific and the earth is apparently much younger than it actually is (somewhere in the last ten thousand years). Unsurprisingly their politics is weirdly reminiscent of the Old Testament. They are opposed to LGBT rights, gay marriage and pride parades. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that still hasn’t made same-sex marriage legal because the DUP are using peace process powers called petitions of concern to veto any marriage bills, thus preventing any progress towards equality. In fact, Arlene Foster claimed, “I know plenty of people in the community that don’t want to see marriage redefined and are quite content to live in partnership.” Yes, Arlene, I’m sure you have many gay acquaintances in your inner circle and I’m sure the gay community is applauding your speaking on their behalf about preventing the simple act of marriage despite your comment reflecting the deceit and disillusions you carry about a country you govern. The DUP are extremely vocal about their opposition to homosexuality and there have been repeated incidents of insults made against homosexuality by several of its MPs. Tom Buchanen, for instance, announced to children at a school that being homosexual was an abomination. Northern Ireland was also five years late in lifting the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood, with the rest of the UK abolishing it in 2011.
The DUP was also the only party in Northern Ireland to campaign for Brexit, despite being the poorest country in the UK. Furthermore, her renewable energy incentive scheme cost Northern Irish taxpayers nearly £500 million which she denied. This resulted in the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive after Martin McGuiness resigned.
To add to their growing list of unfair and repressive views, the DUP strips women of the opportunity to get an abortion unless their life is in danger. Rape cases would be ‘carefully considered’. This archaic legislation is has meant that women have been forced to travel abroad or resort to dangerous and unsafe methods to terminate their unwanted pregnancy. They fought unnecessarily hard to prevent the extension of abortion laws to Northern Ireland and those who breach their anti-abortion legislation is threatened with a life sentence. These gratuitously severe reprimands and the concerning restrictions the laws impose have even troubled the United Nations Human Rights Committee who urged the UK to amend the laws in place in Northern Ireland and protect women.
The DUP are at a huge advantage and have the upper hand against the Conservative party. They are in a strong position to make demands and thus are a major threat to remaining government stability (which May has already demolished), human rights and democracy.