In an earlier post on this blog I discussed how the SNP may have to face down the Unionist Power-house that is the DUP, and lo and behold following the tri-lateral meeting between the Devolved First Ministers Peter Robinson launches torpedo assault on Alex Salmond's plans to get Corporate tax Powers Devolved.
This opening barrage from the DUP head is not only significant in the coming issues surrounding UK constitutional debates but also perhaps shows how the new Northern Irish Assembly will operate.
Peter Robinson's very public criticism of Alex Salmond can be seen as a two-pronged assault on the Nationalist aspiration of Scotland's #1. First Robinson kicked the shins of Salmond's goal of corporation tax by pointing out that it would take a huge chunk out of the Scottish block grant and followed that up by explaining that the only reason Northern Ireland would be likely to receive some taxation powers was because they represent a 'Special Case' due to it being the only part of the UK that has a Non-UK neighbour in the form of the Republic of Ireland and that it's history of conflict having negatively affected infrastructure development.
In essence Peter Robinson told Alex Salmond that if he wanted powers he needed a new neighbour and 30+ years of sectarian violence rather than occasional outburst at an Old Firm game.
But what is perhaps more interesting is what we can glean about how the main Northern Irish parties have adapted post-Vote 2011.
The DUP have decided to slowly change their identity from the old-school catch all Unionism to a Low-Tax Pro-Business party while maintaining their Unionist tendencies, which can be seen in their Executive seat choices of Finance and Enterprise, Sinn Fein have realised that if they are to build on their success in the south they can not be seen as the party that rejects cuts in the republic but delivers them in the North and sop have allowed the DUP to focus on Finance while they take on more social roles, which can be seen in the fact they took education and culture and that while Peter Robinson took on Salmond on Tax, McGuinness focused on sectarianism.
This is perhaps a way that Sinn Fein and the DUP have realised how they can operate in Government without having to constantly try to score points against each other, The DUP can focus on the SNP and British Economic Problems while Sinn Fein can focus on Irish Economic Matters and altering their image in the Republic. By doing so, they can avoid stepping on each others toes and can work together when their goals match.