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Wednesday, 7 March 2007

The DUP goes cross-community

In reviewing the West Belfast election addresses, I left out Diane Dodds of the DUP, on the grounds that I hadn’t seen hers. This is a stroke of good luck, because in fact Diane has had two addresses out. The one, for the Shankill Road whence nearly all of her first preferences come, is the usual stentorian Paisleyism. But Diane has also issued a separate and different address geared towards the nationalist areas that make up the bulk of the West Belfast constituency.

This makes some sense. Remember that last time out, Diane only won her seat with a margin of 97 votes over PSF’s Sue Ramsey. Therefore a few lower preferences, adding up to fractions of votes in the later stages of the PR count, could make all the difference.

So, how is Diane appealing to her Catholic constituents? By pitching herself as the family values candidate. Notably, she makes a big deal of being the only West Belfast MLA to vote against gay equality. This is the DUP’s idea of cross-community politics – appealing to the Gerry McGeough vote. At least it shows that Big Ian’s lot have no problem in principle with reactionary Catholic ultras.

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