More than 1,000 DUP WhatsApp messages released to the Covid Enquiry….

It seems many in the DUP forgot one of the critical rules of politics. Never commit anything to paper or pixel that you would not like to see splashed on the front page of a newspaper.

From Sam McBride in the Beltel:

More than 1,000 internal text messages between the DUP’s most senior figures have been published by the Covid Inquiry, providing an unprecedented insight into what the party really thought and how it operated during the pandemic.
The WhatsApp messages, some of which are acutely embarrassing for senior party figures, are being made public after they were given to the inquiry by former DUP minister Edwin Poots, now the Assembly Speaker, and have been published tonight.

That is in stark contrast to Sinn Féin, whose Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill admitted to the inquiry yesterday that she deliberately deleted everything from all her devices despite being warned by the Head of the Civil Service not to do so and despite being given written legal advice which specifically said text messages and WhatsApps should not be deleted.

The DUP messages are from a WhatsApp group containing its Executive ministers, special advisers, and other senior party figures.

They show the party lampooning the Catholic Church, a message from Emma Little Pengelly that the public were looking for a “strong man”, but also Mrs Little Pengelly’s personal concern for some of the most deprived members of society, reminding colleagues that she came from a poor background.

Someone whose name has been blacked out by the inquiry said on 17 January 2020: “SF doesn’t seem to have matured at all!!”

Emma Little Pengelly – then a special adviser but now deputy First Minister – replied sarcastically: “Well, why not – let English taxpayers subsidise our free prescriptions, lower rates, no water charges, lower tuition fees and free prescriptions… but hey, how dare you guys starve us of funding? #Perfidious Albion”.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots responded: “And a £100m pa on welfare mitigation”.

Education Minister Peter Weir said: “Are any of [us] really surprised?”

A few days later, a reference was made to “Declan”, seemingly Sinn Féin junior minister Declan Kearney. An unidentified person said: “Alastair and I were wondering about his mask issue. Surely a boy like him [sic] has access to one or two.”

Mr Poots replied: “Now now.”

On 14 May, Mr Poots said: “Looks like Deccy and mates could be on the run again”.

That same day, Mr Weir said: “Thought I would make my lunch while Naomi was speaking. Looks like I will have finished eating as well.”

Five minutes later, he said: “While initially joking, I have been able to make and completely eat a cottage pie while Naomi was speaking.”

There is lots more, but I am sure Sam would prefer if you read it on the BelTel site. 

To be fair to to the DUP at least they handed over the messages, so far Sinn Féin have not been as open with their messages.

Also I am on a few WhatsApp groups and its pretty common for them to go a bit ranty or of track so there is a bit of there for the grace of God go I about all this.

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