Sir Jeffrey has put his leadership qualities up for some very serious questioning

When a person is selected to lead a political party it would be quite natural to assume that it was because he was seen to have the skills and abilities that a leader requires to do the job. Unfortunately, in the case of Jeffrey Donaldson, this doesn’t seem to be the case and his latest stunt would suggest that he is so unsure of himself that he needs others to take on the onerous task of decision making – a key ingredient of leadership.

The creation of a panel which includes two unceremoniously ousted leaders and none of the big hitters of the party would suggest that he cannot make the big decisions when necessary, and is setting others up for the blame when the final decision on the Windsor Framework is made. Jeffrey has created a panel that includes Arlene Foster and Peter Robinson, but notably excludes Edwin Poots, and does not include Sammy Wilson or Ian Paisley jnr – both of whom have already expressed their dissatisfaction with the Windsor Framework.

With the panel created to examine the finer details of the Windsor Framework, and to determine whether or not it adequately meets the seven demands made by the DUP, Jeffrey Donaldson will, like Pontius Pilate, be able to hold up his hands and plead no responsibility for whatever outcome it reaches. This is a cute move by Jeffrey who knew, once the details of the Framework were published, that his party was split between those who believed it did enough to meet their demands and those who felt it fell far short of their demands.

By creating this panel Jeffrey may have freed himself from any responsibility for the final decision but, more importantly, he has put his leadership qualities up for some very serious questioning and this will not have gone unnoticed. The almost embarrassing speed with which Wilson and Paisley reacted unfavourably to the Windsor Framework, obviously without contacting their party leader, must have alarmed Jeffrey whose response was, not to discipline the two MPs, but to shift the focus for the final decision to this hastily put together panel.

The panel itself is filled with Donaldson’s cronies and this could prove to be a major mistake as it appears to emphasise and bring to the surface a split in the party itself, and this could be politically disastrous for the DUP. If the split manifests itself, it will lead to even further division within unionism and would be a further nail in the coffin of unionism in these six counties. With unionism already in the decline, this will only hasten the process and bring ever nearer a new political dispensation on this island, and we must be prepared for this outcome.

Had Jeffrey been a strong and capable leader he would have led from the front, made his beliefs on the framework known to his party and united the members on the path they would follow. He has failed dismally to do this, and it is becoming increasingly evident that some members of the party are prepared to challenge his leadership by putting their stances out there before an all-party policy is rolled out.

We are also still left with the, as yet, unanswered question as to whether or not the framework or the protocol is the main issue, or is the truth that the DUP simply won’t go into government with a Sinn Féin first minister.


Craigavon, Co Armagh

Sunday should not be a day for holding sporting events

For the second consecutive year the League Cup final has been staged in Windsor Park on a Sunday afternoon and it has been hailed as a major success. In a discussion on Good Morning Ulster on BBC Radio Ulster last Friday, the commentators seemed supportive of the idea of Sunday sport, and one said that local football was “catching up” with GAA who have staged Sunday fixtures for many years.

The Bible makes it clear that the Lord’s Day is a day to be set apart for the worship of God. It should not be a day for holding any sporting or social events.

The growing popularity of Sunday football is a further reminder that respect for the Lord’s Day has all but evaporated in Ulster. The Belfast marathon is now firmly a Sunday event, with resultant inconvenience to churches. This year’s Irish Cup final will be played on a Sunday for the first time, on the basis that Saturday would clash with the King’s coronation. It could be held on the bank holiday Monday.

While we recognise that society is becoming increasingly secular, it is particularly sad to note the extent to which those from the loyalist community have repudiated their rich evangelical Protestant heritage. The Protestant churches and the various Protestant loyal orders have a solemn and urgent responsibility to speak out on this important issue of Lord’s Day observance, and to call the people back to the Bible and the God of their fathers.


Evangelical Protestant Society, Belfast

Empty cathedrals tell sad story

CHARLES III is to be anointed with a special blend of olive oil from Jerusalem during the coronation. Will the king speak more sense after the anointing and who else needs the oil? What about a good rub of the oil for Prince Andrew, if a suitable masseuse can be found, or even a dollop for the wayward Prince Harry? Might Boris Johnson or MPs benefit from a rub, too?

The Church of England is blighted by multiple evangelical abuse scandal cover-ups. In a reversal of the 1,000-year-old coronation ritual, King Charles could rub oil onto Anglican archbishops and bishops. The sadistic or sarcastic abuse of ministry trainees, plus a variety of other adults, has defiled Anglicanism. No amount of ritual (with expensive oil or incense) can cover up the urgent need for effective safeguarding practice, fully independent of dioceses, or conflicted bishops who have disastrously self-policed for far too long. Empty cathedrals tell a sad story.


Belfast BT5

For once lend SF your vote

As suggested by several prominent media observers and journalists, the intention of the DUP is never to return to the Assembly as long as Sinn Féin is top party with Michelle O’Neill first minister. It might also be that all unionists are deliberately stalling and already plotting tactically to win the next election and return triumphant to Stormont to rule the roost as before.

Just for once, many routine SDLP, Alliance and previous non-voters should consider preparing to counter this scheme by ‘lending’ their support to Sinn Féin and effectively further strengthen its majority in the assembly. Just for once.


Belfast BT9