Monday 10 March 2008

Fáilte ó Rt Hon. Peter Robinson

Here's something you probably never expected to see. In a leaflet publicising the 'Make IT secure' campaign, Peter Robinson, DUP Minister for Finance, has put his name, his photo, and his signature, to an Irish language text:

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Anyone with any knowledge of the public service will know that this could not have happened without the agreement of Robinson himself, or from one of his close advisors.

This raises interesting questions. Firstly, in the light of the DUP's open hostility towards the Irish language, why has Robinson agreed to put his name and signature to an Irish language leaflet? Secondly, why has this happened at this particular moment, when Robinson is being lined up to succeed Paisley as DUP leader? Quite apart from the Irish language aspect to the issue, the campaign is a clear example of the kind of north-southery that the DUP used to have such an objection to. A campaign that could just as easily have been 'UK-wide' is instead Ireland-wide, with Robinson placed below the southern Minister, Eoin Ryan, in the leaflet's lay-out.

Recently Edwin Poots, DUP Minister for Culture, has been receiving a lot of negative publicity (from a nationalist perspective) for his blatant discrimination against the Irish language, which, to be fair, is merely a reflection of the backwoods mentality so prevalent in the DUP. Poots is, of course, a member of the DUP's 'bigot brigade'. Is the 'Make IT secure' leaflet a shot over his bows from a member of the DUP's 'modern' wing? Is Robinson trying to subtly hint to nationalists that under his leadership the DUP will be less hostile to Irish culture? The leaflet was, of course, prepared and translated before Paisley's abdication, but everyone knew that that abdication was coming, so perhaps Robinson was already setting out his stall. If so, expect Poots to be moved or demoted in Robinson's first reshuffle of the DUP ministers.

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