Legislation to allow same-sex marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland can be stopped if a new Assembly forms by October. But doing that would mean the DUP abandoning their opposition to another policy—one their base is deeply set againstby Siobhán Fenton / July 10, 2019 / Leave a comment
In the long and sorry saga of Brexit, the DUP’s mantra that Northern Ireland cannot and must not be treated any differently from the rest of the UK has become one of the best known and most powerful political motifs at Westminster. Indeed, it was the Achilles heel which scuppered Theresa May’s attempts at securing an EU withdrawal deal, as Conservative hardliners echoed the DUP’s concerns about having any difference in trade or tariffs for Northern Ireland.
In Northern Ireland, the philosophy was less well received. Many living here, especially women and the LGBT community, found the idea little more than derisory, as the DUP have always been perfectly content to see Northern Ireland treated differently when it comes to treatment of same-sex couples who wish to marry or women and girls seeking a termination.
Therein lies the central paradox of the DUP’s unionism. The party has always wanted to be just like the rest of the UK, but without the accompanying rights afforded to UK citizens. It is a circle the party has never quite been able to square. However, as many in the rest of the UK had never heard of the party prior to the 2017 general election, it was an issue they were seldom challenged on.