There’s a long distance between Catholics preferring to stay where they are and getting them to actively vote for Unionist parties. But that’s what Peter Robinson’s pitching for. Good luck to him, though as Conal McDevitt points out there’s a considerable way to go to convince people the politics emanating from OFMdFM is not business as usual.
Robinson has some form on this, as Pete pointed out the day he took up the baton from his former leader to become the second DUP MLA to hold the post of First Minister.
Saying is not the same as doing. But just making the pitch makes a difference in how you are viewed. If it does not convert voters in any numbers, it might at least have the effect of removing the ‘anti Unionist’ motivation that impells so many nationalists to get out in vote.
Jude Collins captures it particularly well:
The question that faces those of us with a political interest/motivation is: what direction would we like to see public opinion move? If we’re nationalist/republican, we’ll want to argue our case, present evidence, show that being grown-up politically involves the responsibility of being like other countries, running our own affairs, not having them run by the man next door, no matter how nice or rich he is. If we’re unionist at heart, we’ll want to argue our case for having decisions made by Mother Britain and do all we can to convince nationalist/republicans that theirs is a lost cause.
But on Wednesday in the Irish News Brian Feeney articulated the ultimate of all inconvenient truths for political nationalism. Since the Belfast Agreement, northern Irish nationalists have simply never had it so good:
Now are Sinn Fein really asking northern nationalists to give up all this power and status and submit themselves to being a minority in a bankrupt state where all the goodies have already been divvied up among unfriendly cronyism.
Elephant? What elephant?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty