Open Unionism


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‘Decent people’ should support the Ulster Unionists

Over at Three Thousand Versts I offer strong support for the UUP’s position on the policing and justice vote.

I recently took part in a debate, part of the Exchange Mechanism project at Belfast Exposed, which asked whether the current system of power-sharing in Northern Ireland offers a democratic future or peace at any price. Although the panellists had different opinions about the best way forward, there was consensus that the current dispensation, as it is operated by the DUP and Sinn Féin, is not working.

A week later the Platform for Change initiative launched. The faces, at that event, were different, but the sense of frustration with politics here was precisely the same. In Northern Ireland an ever swelling chorus of voices is singing from the same hymn sheet – our politics are a mess and the Assembly needs to work more effectively.

When Sir Reg Empey described the Executive as a “huckster’s shop” he struck a popular chord which the UUP leader had not managed to strike since he urged the DUP and Sinn Féin to stop ‘arsing about’. It is generally acknowledged that the two larger parties form an impenetrable cabal, committed only hazily to notions of sharing power.

Almost every commentator, almost every politically engaged member of the public, is sceptical about the prospects of the Hillsborough Agreement delivering genuine improvement at Stormont. Yet the idea also persists that the institutions need to be protected at all costs and any concerted effort to use the current policing and justice fiasco to change the status quo is branded irresponsible or destabilising.

The way in which the Hillsborough deal has been carved out demonstrates graphically the problems with the current system of power-sharing. Allowing the current situation to continue will simply result in an endless series of crises and an endless series of impasses. We ought to have the backbone to sort things out now.


Filed under: UUP

2 Responses

  1. thedissenter says:

    Don’t disagree, but now that the UUP have worked out the dysfunctional hole they are in (and which they helped dig) have they the wit to present the way out of that hole? Don’t have the answer to that question. The impression is that they eventually ended up at the right place, but not by a process of thinking that means that position was arrived at for the correct reasons, or any form of reasoning at all. Time will tell.

  2. Anon says:

    Decent People? Are you for real? The demonisation and vilification of those within Unionism who disagree with you as in some way indecent for holding the views they do is appallingly arrogant and reeks of exactly the type of sneering condascention that managed to get the UUP utterly walloped in 2005.

    Still as someone who’s probably never canvassed a door in your life I can see how you think this is acceptable discourse.

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