So what will the DUP want?

So what will the DUP want?

At the headquarters of the Democratic Unionist Party in east Belfast the cheers may have died down, but the phones are about to start ringing.

Already, Arlene Foster’s party are being seen as the “kingmakers” as a result of the messy aftermath of the UK election. And while Theresa May says she will be in touch with “friends in the DUP”, even these friends will expect something significant in return for their crucial support.

So what will the DUP, and its leader at Westminster, Nigel Dodds, want?

The DUP is pro-Brexit, but might not push as hard on Brexit issues as some may think. Like others across the island of Ireland, its politicians are concerned at what the UK leaving the EU means for the border with the Republic of Ireland. The DUP want as “seamless and frictionless” a solution as possible, and knows that a “hard border” makes no sense.

Expect more concessions aimed at boosting Northern Ireland’s economy and helping the DUP’s working class supporters. Hard cash will improve the province’s infrastructure, although one source told me there won’t be an expectation of a “new by-pass for every major town”. One commentator suggested that Mr Dodds will want to put country before narrow party interests.

More controversial may be a DUP demand for an end to prosecutions of members of the security forces from the days of the Troubles.

For the DUP, last night was another step in its impressive electoral progress. Two more Westminster seats were won, taking them to ten out of the province’s total of 18. Their rivals in the Ulster Unionist Party, once the main voices of unionism in Northern Ireland, were wiped out. Sinn Fein gained three MPs, taking them to seven overall, but they will continue to not take up their Westminster seats.

Northern Ireland’s main parties are already wrestling over the future shape of the power-sharing executive at Stormont. The UK election result, and the uncertainty that follows, will likely push this back.

Much-criticised, Arlene Foster has had a difficult time of it recently, but today she could afford to smile. On a potential deal with the Tories, she says: “I certainly think there will be contact made over the weekend.” Friends will soon be in touch. DUP leaders will be writing their shopping lists.

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