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Union 2021: We need unionist civility, not unity

David Morgan has contributed to the News Letter’s Union 2021 series of articles. This latest article appeared in the News Letter on September 01

Republicans are attempting to strip Northern Ireland of its Britishness. But unionists should make clever compromises, says David Morgan

INITIALLY the border posts were made of wood and many thought it would not last.

But 2021 will be the 100th anniversary of Northern Ireland. By 2021 we will not be in a united Ireland. However, with our governmental system of semi-detached fiefdoms, republicans will continue to try to dilute the Britishness of everything they can.

Examples are the sectarian allocation of farm grants or the promotion of the A5 dual carriageway on a fairly lightly used road to create cross-border transport. Far better would be improving roads such as Ballymena to Coleraine, London-derry to Belfast; let alone extending our rail network. That of course leaves aside the debacle of education.

Devolution can work for Northern Ireland: integration is unlikely to be an option in the near future considering Scottish and Welsh devolution. Unionists must strive to make the Union in 2021 an inclusive place welcoming all: unionists, nationalists and the new Northern Irish.

That will mean compromises but we must compromise where sensible whilst resisting the wrecking agenda of Sinn Fein who are committed to making the state fail.

They tried that for all the last century and are still trying. However, we defeated them on each occasion and must continue to defeat them.

Whilst opposing Sinn Fein when they implement their sectarian or wrecking agenda we must make sensible agreements to value the culture and aspirations of nationalism. In addition we must not forget the New Northern Irish who have come to make their homes amongst us. Unionism is an inclusive concept being united to the multicultural United Kingdom, not a mono ethnic group obsessing about pure Irishness or perceived past grievances.

Hence unionism is the natural home for those from overseas who have chosen to make their home in this part of the United Kingdom. We must not allow those potential unionists to drift towards nationalism or Alliance.

Unionist unity is no panacea: by uniting the UUP and DUP supporters at the edges may be lost. Hence, although it may enthuse some voters, it will lose others. It is also difficult to see how any TUV candidates or supporters could sit within a united party.

Rather than unionist unity we should have cooperation on issues which unite unionism. Most importantly, however, we should have unionist civility. Unionist parties have attacked one another repeatedly down the years. Nothing puts voters off more than this constant sniping and bickering.

With the new UUP leader about to take office now would be a good time for the unionist parties to stop attacks on one another. If the time wasted attacking one another was used for constituency work it would do infinitely more good.

Furthermore cooperation may be needed in face of the possibility of Martin McGuinness as first minister.

This may be only symbolic but the symbolism would distress many unionists and send a message to the outside world.

We have recently had the Claudy report: do we want a man who was in the same organisation as those murderers and will answer no questions on the subject nor condemn IRA murder as the representative of our country?

There is far too much blood on that man’s hands to make any democrat support his becoming first minister. It may only be symbolic but considering the murdered of the Troubles it is a symbol much too far.

The Union is secure to an extent. However, we must resist it being hollowed out and must reach out to all. These are huge challenges: our forefathers met similar challenges and triumphed.

I have little doubt that enough of their blood still courses through our veins.

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Filed under: Union 2021, unionist unity?,

2 Responses

  1. Dilettante says:

    Would your proposal preclude unionist parties ‘attacking’ one another over genuine policy differences, like normal parties are wont to do?

  2. Drumlin Rock says:

    One of the best of these articles, although I would agree with Dilettante, criticism should still exist but be reserved for policy, the A5 example is an obvious one with Peter Robinson seen launching the proposals that the UUP generally opposes.

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