Friday, June 08, 2007


Abandon hope, ye unionists?

This seems to be the message coming out of the Young Unionist's website.

Following on from my post yesterday which touched on NI being left out of 'Britain Day' by their so-called compatriots, I questioned how unionists must feel about recent developments in general.

Unquestionably the north and south of Ireland are closer now than at any other point in time since the mutilation of the national territory in 1921. It is also true to say that the people in Britain now feel more distinct from the people of Ireland than ever before. Hell, the people of England and Scotland now feel more distinct hence the reason for this 'Britain Day' idea in the first place.

Unionists at one time believed remaining in the Union was a necessity to protect their best interests. Nowadays leading economists argue the best interests of people across Ireland is through economic unity. A belief held by NI Secretary of State Peter Hain and I suspect also held by Ian Paisley's DUP judging by their commitment to have NI's corporation tax slashed to 12.5% - in line with that of the Republic.

So how are unionists feeling in 2007 as the tide towards economic and political reunification intensifies? Well, John Hussey writes on the Young Unionist's website:

"Is it just me or has the new assembly been a little surreal on occasion – we have the DUP and Sinn Fein acting like newly weds; convicted terrorists sitting on the policing board; Big Ian and Bertie holding hands at the Boyne, and Peter Hain finally going off to bother someone else (I hear that if he gets the deputy leadership that he’s going to open a Whitehall branch of 'tan-tastic').

"What finally drove me over the edge of reason, was during Monday’s assembly debate when the speaker Willy Hay shouted down David Burnside at the mere mention of the term 'Sinn Fein/IRA' a phrase that Mr Hay himself was no stranger to up until recently."

I don't know if these developments are worthy of sending unionists "over the edge of reason" but clearly they stand in stark contrast to the events of only a few short years ago. If you'd told most unionists back in 1997, just ten years ago, that these things would happen - the DUP and Sinn Féin in government, Paisley and Ahern taking trips together, the DUP requesting civil exchanges with the Shinners - I wager most unionists would have refused to believe it. Admittedly, back in 1997, I probably would have struggled to believe it myself. Yet it has happened and must prove quite scary for unionists brought up to look at the Irish nationalist position as worthy of Satan himself. Hussey continues:

"But what’s more, if you look around the new executive, it’s like something from the twilight zone – we have a first minister who thinks we’re all going to hell, a deputy first minister who thinks we’re already there (in our little 'occupied 6 county British statelet'), two junior ministers in the office, one hates the police and the other hates the gays (and what’s more, they both hate each other). We have a Finance minister who looks a bit like droopy the Education minister who was educated in the Republic, an Enterprise minister who’s about as enterprising as a blind hedgehog with a slight limp, a Regional Development minister who doesn’t believe that the region he is developing should even exist (added to which he appears to be confused about whether he is 'here' or not), and to top it all off, we have a Culture minister who thinks Picasso can't do faces. It’s like an Ealing comedy gone wrong. (Notice how I skilfully left out our UUP ministers; amongst others of course)."

I agree with Mr Hussey. It is strange. We've gone from "Never, never, never", "No Surrender", "The Union is Safe" to...well, the twilight zone as Mr Hussey so fittingly described it. Hussey adds:

"It’s a wonder more people haven’t turned to wearing tinfoil hats and checking their groceries for listening devices – indeed, if I were a Free P, I could be tempted to believe that it’s the 'end of days', the world as we know it turned on it’s head – in fact, I don’t know what’s more surprising really, the fact the country is in this situation or that the Free Presbyterian church has not collapsed in on itself."

Well it's simply evolution my dear man. Your "country" (though it was never really a country) is simply making way for the inevitable - reunification. The NI entity lasted a considerable time based upon disgusting sectarianism and gerrymandering and by treating the nationalist community like second-class citizens. With those days now over it is simply a case of when will the wrong be righted? When will the island be restored to its proper condition? These changes in NI might seem quite shocking but there are even bigger and better changes ahead. Changes that will benefit all peoples across this nation. Hussey concludes:

"But in any case – Stormont seems set to only get more bizarre with the devolution of policing and Justice powers looking set for next year. Perhaps Michael Stone ought to have painted 'Abandon hope, all ye who enter here'."

If the hope of unionists is to continue the unfair status quo whereby this island stays divided against the majority's wishes then yes that hope should be abandoned. If the hope for unionists however is to have politics based upon principles and bread-and-butter policies then unionists need to look beyond the twilight zone of the Assembly and look towards the calming waters of Irish unity.

The reunification of the country at one time seemed like fantasy but in this century we can make it a reality. What we have currently in the North doesn't seem to please anybody. It is politics based upon sectarianism, homophobia, and bitterness from generations ago. As the recent Irish election showed, we have moved to a place where we can leave those petty matters where they belong - in the past.

The best future is a shared future. Don't abandon or scoff at that hope - believe in it.


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