In The News podcast: Why is the DUP tearing itself apart?
Conor Pope looks at the fallout from the savage end to Foster’s reign as DUP leader
In The News is presented by reporters Conor Pope and Sorcha Pollak
Even by the notoriously brutal standards of politics, the end of Arlene Foster’s reign as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was particularly savage. The fallout has been even more devastating .
What has happened since she was effectively and summarily dismissed by the party has left more than one political ego bruised and the largest party in Northern Ireland is now facing an existential crisis on a scale that would have been virtually unimaginable at the turn of the year.
As well as trying to reverse a dramatic decline in poll ratings, the DUP’s new leader, Edwin Poots, has to deal with the fallout from Brexit and the Northern Ireland protocol. He also has to manage the relationship between the two governments north and south of the Border, a relationship which he has already characterised as being at a low ebb.
And he is facing growing disenchantment from within his own party. Senior figures within the DUP have openly voiced disquiet about the direction he may take the party while rank-and-file members and councillors have resigned in protest at what they believe is a purge of those who have not displayed sufficient loyalty to the new leader.
And the multiple crises the DUP is being forced to confront also come with an ominous deadline. If the party is to have any chance of securing its position as the leading voice in unionism in the North and the party with the power to nominate a first minister in upcoming Assembly elections, it will need to get its house in order quickly.