As the Catholic Herald went to press, it was unclear whether Theresa May would formalise a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Such a pact, given the DUP’s 10 Westminster MPs, would allow May to claim a working parliamentary majority. Downing Street first issued a statement saying that they had an agreement, then issued a retraction shortly afterwards.
The general expectation is for a limited agreement, on which the DUP will vote for a Queen’s Speech and some other bills, in exchange for Tory policy pledges. But whatever emerges, the DUP negotiations have revealed serious disagreements about Irish history, sectarianism and social conservatism – disagreements no less keenly felt among Catholics as everyone else.
Two opposing sides dominate the intra-Catholic debate. One sees the DUP as a sinister organisation, still stained by its sectarian past and unsavoury associations – to say nothing of the questions around its financial dealings.
Another believes that the DUP has set aside its history, and is today acceptable to Catholics – more than acceptable, since it defends the lives of unborn children, and its MPs voted against the redefinition of marriage.
Given the context of last week’s election – in which half-a-dozen pro-life stalwarts lost their seats – these issues are at the top of many Catholics’ immediate political concerns.
They were certainly the DUP policies which received most coverage, from the media and others. Jeremy Corbyn told Pink News that “LGBT rights are human rights. They must not be sold out by Theresa May and the Conservatives as they try to cling to power with the DUP.” Sir Michael Fallon told the Andrew Marr Programme that the Tories “do not agree and do not have to agree with any of their views on any of these social issues and I certainly don’t.”
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