Delegates hear talk of bald-headed betrayal
Delegates at the DUP conference at the weekend were able to combine their political duties with a bit of festive shopping. A stall in the foyer of the Causeway Coast Hotel thoughtfully offered a range of presents that wouldn't look out of place under a loyal Ulster Christmas tree.
There were leather-bound DUP diaries; Then Sings My Soul, the latest musical offering by the Rev William McCrea; and videos to watch huddled around a fire on cold, winter nights such as Five Days in July; Drumcree: The Protestant Perspective.
More literary loyalists had a choice of Ulster histories including Their Cry was No Surrender, an account of the Siege of Derry by Peter Robinson. There were Ulster cookbooks, Ulster songbooks and the perfect stocking-fillers for the kids, Rangers key rings.
The stall, staffed by the DUP's super-salesman Gregory Campbell, did a roaring trade. Inside the conference, a huge oil painting of the Rev Ian Paisley against a backdrop of choppy seas and darkened skies - perhaps warning of Ulster's peril - was on display. It will be auctioned at a later date.
The DUP conference was, as always, a mixture of doomsday warnings, determined defiance and evangelical zeal. Dr Paisley sat on the platform, like an avenging angel full of biblical wrath, surrounded by Union flags.
The location of the conference - the Co Antrim seaside town of Portrush - was deemed appropriate by some delegates who claimed that the DUP's enemies were trying to drive it over the edge and into the sea.
The former MP for Mid Ulster, the Rev William McCrea, highlighted the weak nature of other unionists. The UUP had run out of discussions with the Government at Stormont in October, he said, complaining that the Foreign Minister, Mr Andrews, was "macho and aggressive".
"Unfortunately these are not characteristics easily recognisable in Mr Trimble or his companions at a time when unionism is in its greatest fight for survival," Willie moaned.
While Ulster hovered on the edge, the UUP danced with Dublin, he said. "Ken [Maginnis] puts his left hip in, puts his left hip out, David [Trimble] puts his left hip in and shakes it all about, and Andrews shouts O Hokey Pokey."
The talks chairman, Senator George Mitchell, wasn't too popular with Willie either. Pointing to the door, he said that the only place for Senator Mitchell to go was home.
"Let him go back to America and fight the discrimination there instead of lecturing us," he shouted to loud applause.
But his most stinging attack was reserved for the PUP, which he said was a disgrace to Ulster. Pointing to his own head, he said it was nearly bald due to natural reasons, but the receding hairlines of David Ervine and Billy Hutchinson were from being patted on the head for good behaviour by the enemies of unionism.
"Dickie Spring pats them on the head; Marjorie Mowlam pats them on the head; Bertie Ahern, David Andrews, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Senator Mitchell, Tom Cobley and all pat them on the head."
Willie imagined David saying to Billy: "I do wish they would stop that, I look more like Kojak every day"'.
"Who loves ya baby?" Willie asked.
The PUP came in for further attack for "betraying" Ulster from the Belfast councillor, Sammy Wilson. The Puppies, as he called them "have rolled over, stuck their legs in the air and their bellies up. Some people say they are not Puppies, they are puppets, because they are getting their strings pulled."
Sammy claimed that certain politicians had been "infected" by the Northern Secretary, Dr Mo Mowlam: "You know the huggy-wuggy, lovey-dovey Secretary of State we have now - instead of fighting she is embracing the enemy. But I'll tell you one thing, this party will never get a beard rash from making up to Gerry Adams."
Republicans had swapped their boiler-suits for Armanis and their balaclavas for beards, he said. They were receiving invitations to the White House and Downing Street but the DUP recognised their true colours.
He condemned Mr Trimble for saying his party was giving Gerry Adams the last bite of the apple. "Does he not realise that Gerry Adams has been guzzling the whole barrel of apples over the last year?
"Between feeding Gerry Adams apples and having to eat their own words, they will never go hungry in Glengall Street. No wonder Ken Maginnis is winning his battle against anorexia," Sammy said.
Dr Paisley continued with the weight theme when he recalled the UUP deputy leader, Mr John Taylor, saying at the time of the first IRA ceasefire that he felt in his gut that it was for real.
"We have the unionist deputy leader who is led by his gut, whose god is his belly," Dr Paisley said. He told the conference what the Bible had to say about that.
The DUP leader went on to condemn the Women's Coalition - "and I apologise to all womenfolk for them" - and Bill Clinton for shaking hands with Gerry Adams in the "vermin's nest" of west Belfast.
How would the US President feel if the DUP praised the Oklahoma bombers and invited them to tea in the White House, he wondered. Would Bill Clinton not take his "big toe and apply it to a part of my body?"
Dr Paisley said he felt like doing the same to the President.