Reader Ian Parsley has written in to agree with Arlene Foster’s piece in this month’s Fortnight magazine. He elaborates further:
Ulster Protestants generally are more individualistic people and less inclined to form groups behind a common, coherent goal.
Here in Northern Ireland the administration was faced, in the early 70s, with the task of giving Catholics a voice for the first time. Over time it became apparent that the best way to do this was to speak to ‘community groups’ whose leaders spoke for all the inhabitants/members/interested parties, as that is how Catholic NI is structured.
The problem now, though, is that many Protestants have legitimate grievances but do not air them in the same way. The administration, used to dealing with ‘groups’ (all of whose members appear to agree with each other), is rather baffled about how to deal with lots of different approaches from individuals rather than a single approach from a group.
Ulster Scots provides a classic example. The Ulster Scots movement regularly bands around terms like ‘representatives of the Ulster Scots Community’ – but these do not exist! There are people who represent their own views and occasionally 3 or 4 of them happen, vaguely, to agree – but this is far from representing the ‘Ulster Scots Community’.
In turn, the government has refused to answer queries as to who or what the ‘Ulster Scots Community’ actually is! It is convenient for the government just to deal with 2 or 3 individuals and pretend it is dealing with the whole Community. It has no grasp of the need to get out and network among *individuals*, or of the simple fact that the 2 or 3 individuals they do deal with represent nobody but themselves (whatever their own claims to the contrary).
Legitimate Protestant grievances are being ignored, and serious questions now have to be asked by government officials of themselves, and how they deal with Protestants. In many cases, the same model simply cannot be applied for Protestants as it is for Catholics.