by Frank Schnittger
Sat Jun 17th, 2017 at 09:26:07 AM EST
Fintan O'Toole has long been one of Ireland's best writers and recently won the George Orwell prize for journalism and a European press award for his commentaries on Brexit. His latest piece parodies the DUP's love affair with the Conservative party and all things British...
DUP's crush on Britain will end badly
It is one thing to be infatuated with someone who just ignores you. The unfulfilled love retains its bittersweet purity, its dreamy half-life of pure possibility. But the true tragedy occurs when your love is apparently consummated at last and you find that the loved one really despises you. The DUP has long dreamed of being wrapped fully in the warm embrace of the Tory world with which it strives so hard to identify. And now, miraculously, its moment has come. But the loved one is thinking of England, sneaking glances at her watch and praying "Oh god! When will this be over?"
The aphrodisiac that got the DUP all hot on Britishness was, of course, Brexit. David Cameron's referendum gave the DUP a chance to indulge in a fantasy of ultra-Britishness. It had been forced, in its slow and reluctant acceptance of the Belfast Agreement, to come to terms with the complicated reality of its world, which is the island of Ireland in all its ambiguities of belonging. For the DUP, Brexit was a kind of holiday from this messy, compromised reality, a mental sojourn in a sunny Playa del Ingles where all the cafes fly the Union flag and serve fish and chips.
The problem, of course, is that the holiday turned out to be a semi-permanent relocation. The DUP was surely as perplexed as Boris Johnson was when the jolly jaunt to imperial nostalgia turned into a moment of destiny. The day trippers to Little Britain found out that there was no return train and that they were stranded on a beach far from reality with the tide of bad news slowly but relentlessly coming in. That's not Land of Hope and Glory playing on the Tannoy - it's Hotel California.
The tragic truth behind the DUP's mooning infatuation is that for the British establishment, Northern Ireland is not a place but two places: out of sight and out of mind. And the DUP, to them, is Northern Ireland writ large, a thing from the swamp of bad history. They don't like it and they dread having to pretend to love it. It is a frog that must be kissed but it is never going to turn into a prince. The Tories will endure the DUP while they must and betray it when they can.