THERE was a sense of déjà vu about The Nolan Show (BBC ONE) last week. Most of you will remember the RHI scandal. The reason the RHI story broke was that Nolan got his teeth into it and kept chomping until it became a major issue that eventually brought Stormont down. I’m tempted to add that for all that, there were few signs of permanent financial or political damage, but I’ll resist the temptation.
I mention RHI because last week on The Nolan Show, the host adopted a similar approach to a statement from the DUP, where they talked about ‘prioritising’ political and financial matters in terms of resolving the Windsor Framework controversy. The DUP swore to their voters that they were agin any return to Stormont until NEI had been restored to its rightful place within the UK.
Nolan made no bones about it: the DUP were getting ready to receive a huge sum of money – billions, even – which they could take back to hard-pressed services here, in the hope that their followers would be so grateful, they wouldn’t notice that nothing had really been changed in the Windsor Framework. Nolan’s accusations verged on the comic – he repeatedly read the ‘political and financial’ bit in the DUP communiqué, then said he was unable to read it and had journalist Sam McBride read it out for him.
It's not totally clear why Nolan is going after this issue so hard, teeth bared. It could be that he wants to perform a public service by exposing and denouncing the fact that the DUP are pretending to be consistent in their opposition to the Windsor Framework, which leaves NEI, they say, outside the UK. On the other hand, it could be his way of getting back at the DUP, which appears to have been consistently boycotting his show (as has, it seems, Sinn Féin). Having both major parties, particularly the DUP, ignoring his programmes could have implications for Nolan’s future as a broadcaster.
One thing’s for sure: by shouting from the rooftops that the DUP are about to perform a handbrake-style U-turn, he’s making it all the more difficult for that party to do what he’s accusing them of. That’s not to say they won’t accept their thirty pieces of silver and to hell with the political implications of leaving the Windsor Framework as is; but I’m sure they’d prefer if Nolan didn’t wave a banner saying ‘They’ve literally sold out.'
The DUP are finding out the truth of the old adage – nothing hurts so much as the charge that you are anybody’s for enough money, especially when it becomes pretty clear that that is just what you are.