Chuckle Brothers give way to Brothers Grim

And so it is that Peter Robinson gets his reward after 28 long years as deputy leader of the DUP – beat that, Gordon!

What does this mean in practice? Well, Robbo has been quick to signal a change in style. But that’s being interpreted in different ways. On the news last night we were hearing that Robbo was a “pragmatist” and his businesslike relationship with Biffo Cowen was being flagged up. Strange how everyone involved in the peace process eventually gets to be a pragmatist. And there’s probably some limited truth to that in that Robbo belongs to the urban sectarian wing of the DUP rather than the rural fundamentalist wing.

The big change will be in the optics. This means the departure of the jovial and gregarious Papa Doc, along with his almost paternal relationship with Martin McGuinness. In Big Ian’s place will come the perpetually glowering Robbo, to be augmented by his new deputy leader, the funereal Nigel Dodds. Chuckling will probably be off the agenda.

There isn’t likely to be a great deal of change in substance, at least in the short term. On the other hand, the less happy-clappy optics will pose some interesting questions for those in our body politic who’ve come to rely on the feelgood factor to see them through.


  1. D.J.P. O'Kane said,

    April 16, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Do the assembly and/or office of the first minister have any responsibility for things like, just to take a random example, domestic violence?

  2. splinteredsunrise said,

    April 17, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    My favourite was Baby Doc getting responsibility for gay rights…

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