To the angry Protestant unionists I met, the law of the big stick is triumphing again: He who holds it, wins. Here, the DUP finds itself in a worst-of-all-worlds dilemma. The question has been given little serious scrutiny in London or internationally, but is focusing minds in Belfast and Dublin. Like nowhere else in the United Kingdom, the past is alive in Northern Ireland. In North Belfast, the DUP is about to discover whether its working-class base will rally to the party because of the perceived threat to the union and all that it represents—or whether they will punish the party for failing to protect it in the first place. Nothing in Northern Ireland is understandable without first understanding this. The effect, unionists believe, has been to make Northern Ireland more distinct from Britain —the exact opposite of what they had hoped.
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