DUP debate: From Twitter reshuffle to power-play?

Tweets in support of DUP leader Peter Robinson

Twitter has played a significant role in Northern Ireland politics during this assembly term.

When the Stormont parties picked their departments, the news was tweeted to the outside world.

On Tuesday, DUP leader Peter Robinson tweeted the identity of his new ministers and committee chairs.

Then on Thursday, a series of DUP elected representatives used Twitter again to signal their support for their leader.

The sequence of tweets looked like a coordinated response from DUP HQ to a couple of damaging interventions on that rather more old fashioned medium - the wireless.

Broadcasts first by Edwin Poots and then Lord Morrow left the impression that some in the DUP were less than enthusiastic about the Robinson era continuing through to 2016.

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Media captionPeter Robinson: 'Some people are puffed up by their own importance'

The leader used the rather more newfangled TV to label his critics as "lemmings".

The benefit of Twitter is that you can say something without a pesky interviewer asking you to clarify matters.

But the Twitterati are too canny to believe that a spate of politicians saying the same thing is a spontaneous expression of brotherly love.

Mr Robinson's arch critic, TUV leader Jim Allister, responded: "Finding great amusement from the orchestrated tweets of undying loyalty to 'Our Dear Leader'. Is failing to tweet a disciplinary offence?"

After the first couple of tweets, I asked whether a Twitter reshuffle had now become a Twitter power struggle? Given the one-sided nature of the tweets, I should have maybe substituted the words "Twitter power play".

This being Twitter, a short time after my initial comment I got a message telling me my original tweet was getting more retweets than normal.

Now were they from pro or anti-Robinson tweeters? I've no idea but as they say in Twitterland, a retweet is not necessarily an endorsement. Unless you're in the DUP of course...

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