is a coup not a coup? When its healthy debate
within the DUP, of course!
there is still a deep suspicion in many unionist
circles popular DUP MEP Jim Allister's public
concerns about sections of the St Andrews Agreement
are, in reality, the opening shots in a post Paisley
seems unbelievable following the public euphoria
from all camps in the aftermath of October's crucial
'hot house' talks in Scotland the sequencing should
stumble at the first hurdles.
postponing of the planned face-to-face meeting
between DUP chief Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein supremo
Gerry Adams took place within hours of Allister's
very public unease the Provos were not obliged
to disband their Army Council under the Scottish
Paisley camp's excuse for not participating in
the previously agreed face-to-face Stormont encounter
was its insistence Sinn Fein chief negotiator
Martin McGuinness give a pledge of support for
policing and law and order prior to the 24 November
deadline for nominations for First and Deputy
there are some suggestions the real reason was
a knee-jerk reaction to the Allister broadside
amid allegations the MEP did not inform the DUP
leadership he was going public with his concerns.
Allister has said he was not rejecting the St
Andrews package, but simply wanted to see healthy
debate within the party.
becoming a poll-topping MEP and replacing Paisley
in 2004, the prominent barrister Allister has
become a grassroots hero in the party among the
traditional Right-wing, concerned the DUP was
giving too many concessions to republicans in
exchange for the return of a legislative Assembly.
spite of the concessions to Unionism on rates,
the grammar sector and sequencing, there are still
a significant number of rank and file unionists
particularly in the DUP who remain
deeply sceptical about the power-sharing elements
of the St Andrews Agreement.
before the Agreement, Allister had already established
his clear political credentials as the unofficial
leader of the DUP's ultra dissident wing.
two other factions in the party are the modernisers
around deputy leader Peter Robinson, and the ruling
religious fundamentalists around Paisley himself
and the South Antrim MP and Free Presbyterian
cleric Rev William McCrea.
Robinson would appear to be the likely successor
to Paisley as both First Minister and DUP boss,
it has been alleged The Big Man favours North
Belfast MP Nigel Dodds to replace himself as party
with Paisley aged almost 81, Allister will have
to carefully time any bid to become leader. He
would be best likely to form a pressure group
within the DUP in much the same way as dissident
unionists in the rival Ulster Unionists formed
the group Union First with Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey
Donaldson as one of their figureheads.
what Allister really needs to shift any leadership
bid into top gear is a Westminster seat
and Paisley's stomping ground of North Antrim
would be a natural choice.
was a former North Antrim member of the 1982-86
Assembly, but his initial task in becoming North
Antrim MP would be to take the nomination away
from Paisley's son, Ian Junior.
the meantime, Allister can use his MEP's role
to build on his already impressive power base
across the North among rank and file unionists.
would effectively be political suicide for Allister
to leave the DUP and form an alliance with North
Down UKUP leader and fellow barrister Robert McCartney,
who is a sharp critic of the St Andrews Agreement.
his European vote and his clear support from the
UUP's Right wing, Allister's next logical move
could be to form a New Vanguard pressure group
as a debating forum for dissidents within the
DUP, UUP and UKUP.
it is also highly unlikely Allister would mount
a direct leadership challenge against Paisley
himself for fear of being portrayed as a Brutus-type
character, stabbing the Unionist Caesar Rev Ian
Paisley in the back.