Democratic Unionist Party
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is a socially conservative, protestant, political party in Northern Ireland. It currently holds the most seats of any party in Northern Ireland’s national assembly.
It has blocked efforts to pass a Climate Change Act in Northern Ireland, as well as having a history of supporting creationism and blocking legislation on the legalisation of abortion and gay marriage. It is the only political party in Ireland to support Brexit.
The party was founded in 1971 by Ian Paisley and is now led by Arlene Foster. It has strong links to protestant Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, established by Paisley. It believes Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom and currently has 10 MPs sitting in the UK parliament in Westminster.
In June 2017, it agreed a ‘confidence and supply’ deal with prime minister Theresa May to provide her Conservative Party with the votes it needed to push major legislation through the House of Commons. The DUP received an additional £1 billion for projects in Northern Ireland in return for its support.
Stance on Climate Change
The manifesto talks in general terms about the need for a “secure and sustainable energy supply for Northern Ireland”, with the focus on interconnection and development of new generation capacity, but with no indication given of the source of this new energy, other than a welcome for “recent planning applications for new power stations” – a clear signal that it remains firmly wedded to fossil fuels.
“… pulling out of the agreement which was only a piece of window dressing for climate chancers who wished to pretend that they were doing something about an issue which they can’t affect anyhow is not the disaster which the green lefties are getting hysterical about.
“What it might actually do is give us the opportunity to design a sensible energy policy which will help grow the economy, lift the burden of high energy costs off the shoulders of poor households and secure manufacturing and service jobs in energy intensive industries. The only losers will be those who are hoovering up billions of pounds of subsidies from hard pressed consumers.”
DUP MP Sammy Wilson welcomed Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord on climate change as “very wise”.
The DUP’s 2017 election manifesto contained not a single mention of the terms “climate change”, “global warming” or “environment”. It did contain implied commitments to new fossil fuel power plants.
It was revealed that in the run up to the Brexit referendum, the DUP spent £282,000 on a newspaper advert in the London Metro – which did not run in Northern Ireland – encouraging people to vote to leave the EU.
This was paid for through a donation of £425,000 from a shadowy group called the Constitutional Research Council, which OpenDemocracy revealed to have links to Saudi Arabia’s intelligence community and a gun running operation described by Indian authorities as “the biggest crime in the country's history”.
The DUP’s environment minister Michelle McIlveen, quashed efforts to introduce a Northern Ireland Climate Change Act. The Social Democratic and Labour Party’s Mark Durkan described Northern Ireland’s failure to enact climate change laws – due to a lack of political consensus and obstruction by the DUP – as an “embarrassment”.
The DUP induced a political crisis in Northern Ireland through a “green energy” scheme.
The so-called cash-for-ash controversy involved a botched government renewable heat incentive scheme, introduced in November 2012, and run by the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
Its ham-fisted implementation and complete absence of cost controls created perverse incentives whereby for every £1 a business spent on fuel, it received a government subsidy of £1.60. This quickly escalated into a massive scam, where furnaces were burning fuel around the clock in sheds with the windows and doors wide open.
The final cost to the taxpayer for this fiasco is expected to be upwards of £400 million.
DUP MP and environment minister at the time, Sammy Wilson, organised a meeting in the House of Commons in central London on behalf of “Repeal the Act”, a group that argues the “climate is always changing” and seeks to repeal the UK’s Climate Change Act. In attendance were known climate science deniers Peter Lilley, David Davies and Richard Tol.
A survey among DUP members found that 40 percent believed creationism should be taught in science classrooms.
The DUP lobbied the National Trust to controversially include a ‘younger Earth’ version of the origins of the Giant’s Causeway at its visitor centre through the Caleb Foundation. Mervyn Storey, chair of the DUP’s education committee, is a member of the Caleb Foundation. The Caleb Foundation has also formally objected to museums depicting evolution as an accepted fact.
DUP MP and environment minister at the time, Sammy Wilson, hosted a group of climate science deniers at the Palace of Westminster for “Climate Fools Day”. The event was supported by Labour MP and now Global Warming Policy Foundation member Graham Stringer. One of the event invites read: “The danger is not Climate Change but Climate Change Policy – for which there is no evidence in justification.”
DUP MP and environment minister at the time, Sammy Wilson, put a ban on UK government TV and radio adverts that were encouraging people to cut their carbon emissions. Wilson described the ads as insidious green propaganda.
Photo: DUP Photos via Flickr | CC2.0