Shifting, sinking sands of political expediency!

Photo by Keith Hardy on Unsplash

I am anxious at this time of deliberate confusion generated by duplicitous craft, to get out as much of the truth as I can.

I freely acknowledge that I must rely on the guidance and information of those well versed in the intricacies of the situation that has overtaken us all and I have quoted their observations in this article.

I can only thank the providence of God that there are today voices raised in opposition to the treachery that is at work in our poor blighted province.

I hope you find this article helpful.


“ . . .  your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity,” Isaiah 59:3-4.

I recall, back in the mid-1980s, when I was a DUP member of the then Stormont Assembly, telling my congregation one Sabbath evening, how good it was to be back in the pulpit!

I told them that in Stormont, promises were made and strategies agreed on a Monday and by Wednesday, few could remember anything of the details of the promises and agreements, for political advantages had altered and the profitabilities of the recent arrangements had been overtaken and a ‘somersault’ was required in order to seize bigger and better gains. A resetting of the party sails had to take place in order to take advantage of the new winds that were blowing!

Press secretaries and glib-tongued party spokesmen swiftly would explain how that there was no deceit, no change of heart, no compromise — it’s just that what appears as an ‘about turn’ was really what had been announced on the Monday was not properly explained and set out for the public to rightly understand. But now that was being rectified. What had appeared as black was in fact white and any misunderstanding of the party position was now being more clearly explained on the Wednesday!

Such is the world of make-believe and deceit that is foisted upon the public!

In contrast to this chicanery, it was so good to turn my back on Stormont and open the Bible in my pulpit and begin to expound the unchanged and unchanging laws and commands of God to my flock. I was not required to alter or retract what I had set forth from the Bible in previous sermons, but could reiterate those same truths confidently, knowing that “the foundation of God standeth sure,” (2 Timothy 2:19) and that “the word of God , . . . .  liveth and abideth for ever,” (1 Peter 1:23).

We have seen of late ‘black’ being set forth as ‘white’ once again. The Democratic Party leadership has now decided that their two-year boycott of the Assembly, which had forced the Assembly to cease functioning, is coming to an end! All their demands regarding the changes they wish to see made to the post-Brexit trade arrangements between Westminster and the EU had, they claimed, been met.

The DUP has been in extensive talks with the UK government, seeking changes to the arrangements which were agreed in the UK-EU Windsor Framework deal. At this point the public has not been given the deals of the agreement reached with the London government but we have the word of Sir Jeffrey “Mr Dependable” Donaldson, the DUP leader, that all is well.

That is not how many see it. When all the enemies are standing up and cheering at this deal and those who have proved their fidelity to Ulster’s cause, are issuing loud warnings and dismissing the Donaldson ‘deal’, does not the Ulster Protestant have cause to seriously question and doubt what it is the DUP have done!

Here are examples of the ‘cheering’!

Sinn Féin hails ‘day of optimism’ after DUP agrees return to NI power-sharing (BBC)

Sinn Fein boasts that ‘a new Ireland is emerging’ and says republicans will push for ‘ending partition’ as they prepare to run Northern Ireland for the first time after unionist DUP FINALLY agrees £3bn deal to restore power-sharing (Daily Mail)

The same glowing terms used by the DUP when it treacherously entered power-sharing with Sinn Fein/IRA back in 2007, are now being used by Donaldson and Co of this ‘arrangement’ whereby they will again harness themselves to ‘terrorist-praising’ republicans. This time they enter an arrangement subservient to under the leadership of the Sinn Fein leader in Stormont, Michelle O’Neill.

A ‘happy duo’ — Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald (left) and Michelle O’Neill

I would offer to our readers the following analysis of the ‘Donaldson Deal’ by Mr Jim Allister KC, MLA; the leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice party. His strong assertions that nothing has changed except that the DUP has ‘cemented’ Northern Ireland in a position whereby we are no longer a full member of the United Kingdom and that we will be jointly governed by London and the European Union, are I believe, beyond challenging.

This situation is what the DUP in recent times repudiated alongside other Unionists, but which now, under the guise of accomplishing the overthrow of that which they had campaigned against, have sold out completely for a ‘mess of pottage’. That will soon be ‘gobbled up’ and disappear but the chains placed upon Ulster by the DUP’s treachery will not!

Here is the case made by Unionists, including Donaldson, against the ‘Protocol’ but which now for ‘filthy lucre’ he has repudiated.


This fact is underscored by former DUP Stormont minister, Jim Wells in a statement given to the ‘Belfast Newsletter’.


Former DUP veteran Jim Wells says party members’ desire to re-enter Stormont is ‘clouded’ by financial self-interest

By Adam Kula

Belfast Newsletter

Published 30th Jan 2024, 12:15 GMT

A former member of the DUP executive fears that members who have gone along with Sir Jeffrey’s planto take the party back into powersharing with Sinn Fein will have done so with their vision “clouded” by self-interest.

Jim Wells, a former South Down MLA and health minister, was speaking as confusing reports circulated of last night’s crunch meeting of the DUP executive, after which leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson announced that members had voiced “decisive” support for re-entering Stormont.

Many staunch unionists are concerned that doing so means the DUP has resigned itself to Northern Ireland being merely a semi-detached part of the UK, because it remains under partial EU control whilst the rest of the UK isn’t.

Sir Jeffrey said in a press conference in the early hours of this morning: “I’m pleased to report that the party executive has now endorsed the proposals that I’ve put to them.”

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND – DECEMBER 19: Democratic Unionist party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson leads party colleagues Gavin Robinson (R) and Emma Little-Pengelly (not pictured) from a press conference following discussions at Hillsborough Castle on December 19, 2023 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which has been boycotting a power-sharing government at Stormont since 2022 in protest of post-Brexit trade rules, rejected any potential deal to restore devolution in Northern Ireland by Christmas. The British government had reportedly hoped an agreement on power-sharing could be reached before today’s parliamentary recess. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

“The party has concluded that subject to the binding commitments between the DUP and UK government being fully and faithfully delivered as agreed, including the tabling and passing of new legislative measures in parliament, and final agreement on a timetable the package of measures in totality, does provide a basis for our party to nominate members to the Northern Ireland Executive – thus seeing the restoration of the locally elected institutions.”

Asked if support had been unanimous, Sir Jeffrey said: “There was a vote held, and there was a decisive decision taken – that’s all I’m going to say.”

Details of the deal, and indeed the outcome of the vote, have not been made public by the DUP.

However, loyalist activist Jamie Bryson – who was apparently being fed information by a party insider from within the late-night DUP executive meeting – said the DUP leader “cannot say he has full support of his party, because he does not”.

TEMPLEPATRICK, NORTHERN IRELAND – JUNE 26: Jim Wells arrives for a meeting of the party’s electoral college to elect Sir Jeffrey Donaldson as the new DUP leader at the Hilton hotel on June 26, 2021 in Templepatrick, County Antrim Jim Wells was a DUP member for decades, and is a former member of the party executive.

He fell out with the party several years ago, and is no longer a member. He since joined the TUV.

His suspicion is that Sir Jeffrey’s claims about the nature of the deal sound “too good to be true”, and that “I think as the days go by it will head inexorably in the one direction – a gradual unravelling”.

However, Sir Jeffrey could still carry the day if he has “bought the silence of the big guns” in the party.

“He needs to get it through with the silence of some of the biggest beasts in the DUP jungle,” said Mr Wells.

“If the beasts go silent and say nothing, then I think Jeffrey can – even if as it unravels – continue to hold the line.”

But if not, Sir Jeffrey has “huge problems”.

Mr Wells’ chief concern about the deal was that any decision to accept it may not have depended upon principle alone.

“I’ve attended many slick Powerpoint presentations by the DUP over the last 28 years, and they’re good at it,” he said.

“Everybody sits in the room and they’re bombarded with these slides, flowcharts…

“I keep asking the question: how many people in that room had a direct financial rationale in Stormont coming back?

“The executive has gone from a body which is made up of grassroots supporters, doorknockers, and canvassers – all those people with no direct link to Stormont or Westminster – to a large number of people who are employed directly or indirectly by the party.

“It’s since Stormont came back in 1998: a lot of people went to university, got a job in an MLAs office, got on to the council, then got co-opted onto Stormont.

“A lot of the MLAs, that’s their entire experience of life, through that route.”

Other members of the 120-or-so DUP executive may be employed as constituency workers, or have relatives who are.

“Like it or not, people in that position have a direct vested position as far as a return to Stormont [goes], and their judgement will be clouded by the fact that a vote not to return to Stormont could be a vote for unemployment.

“I believe the party executive committee should be an executive committee of party activists, not party employees.

“The party executive is 25 of them are MLAs, eight are MPs, and there’s five from each constituency, but often those five are made up of people who are employed in constituency offices – or who are councillors, or are married to officers, staff, or councillors…

“In the old days before Stormont was there the executive was made up entirely of grassroots activists who had no pecuniary interest whatsoever.

“When you’ve a lot of people who are directly financially linked to Stormont then it’s more difficult for them to take an impartial view.”

The DUP has been contacted for comment.

There is a strong belief in Unionist circles that opposition will be mounted from within the DUP which will ‘sink’ this deal.

I can recall when such a view was put forth by the likes of William McCrea and Nigel Dodds back in 2007, when Dr Paisley announced his plan to take the DUP into power with Sinn Fein/IRA.

Sadly that resolve was as the proverbial “morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away,” Hosea 6:4. I doubt very much if there are any within the present DUP, with the moral fibre, the courage and principle to take the ‘flak’ that will most certain fly if any dare to hinder the re-opening of Stormont!!!

Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
30th January 2024