Unionists must focus on a basic goal – a peaceful, economically prosperous and politically stable Northern Ireland, while drawing on a reserve of deeply held values, according to a new report on the future of Unionism.
A Long Peace, (download pdf 959KB here) published today with support from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, argues that a functioning democracy in Northern Ireland is the only way to reconcile competing interests in a peaceful way, and calls on the Unionist movement to develop new strategies for engagement in the political process.
The 50-page report draws on consultations with individuals and groups across the community and challenges Unionists to create a vision for strong government that will deliver a peaceful and prosperous future for Northern Ireland.
By focusing on being realistic, positive, hard-headed, professional and open, A Long Peace argues that Unionism can tackle its current predicament of being regularly out-thought, out-flanked and out-witted by [its] opponents.
The authors of A Long Peace are Trevor Ringland, Ulster Unionist figure and ex-rugby international; David Steven, an English policy analyst and writer; and Mick Fealty, editor of Slugger O’Toole, a current affairs website that offers reporting and analysis on Northern Ireland. Commenting on the report, Mick Fealty said:
Our aim was to focus on the future from a Unionist point of view and how this might be achieved. Although A Long Peace was not about mapping out that future in any detail, we believe we have identified a number of issues that can be used to help shape debate in the coming months.
In particular, we have identified a need for increased openness in Unionism. Stepping outside the problem and looking at solutions in other societies and governments may offer inspiration for the vision we believe Unionism must develop to succeed if it is to deliver strong and successful government for Northern Ireland in the future.
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