Fintan O’Toole: The DUP created this mess but now it belongs to all of us

Unionism in disarray is dangerous, and tribalised glee at its plight is idiotic

DUP leader Arlene Foster. Photograph: Cate McCurry/PA Wire

DUP leader Arlene Foster. Photograph: Cate McCurry/PA Wire

Five years ago, in April 2016, the Democratic Unionist Party published its manifesto for the forthcoming Assembly elections. Among other things, it said that “Northern Ireland was established as a legal entity on 5 May, 2021 [sic]. This should be made a one-off public holiday and for that day and year a full programme of events developed to celebrate and examine our history.”

It is safe to say that Northern Ireland was not established in 2021. But it was not established on May 5th, 1921, either. When challenged, a DUP spokesman said the date cited in the manifesto really should have been May 3rd: “May 3rd has been chosen as a date to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland as it is the date on which partition took effect under the Government of Ireland Act.”

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