Can unionism evolve…?

SLUGGER continues to drive debate beyond the web in today’s Irish News, where Roy Garland uses recent criticism of ‘the Roy Garlands’ of unionism by contributor Watchman to draw a distinction between “the strength of the constructive voice of unionism” and what Garland sees as a past unionism of “small minds and self-defeating philosophies”.

Garland writes:

Watchman mistakenly assumes that the concerns of most unionists centre on traditional sectarian dog fights but thinking unionists know that sectarianism is the barrier to progress. Politicians on all sides are hampered by paranoid fears and suspicions among their backwoodsmen and even the DUP is desperately trying to control the tiger they have by the tail.

Unionism has had to change in order to win respect and enable Northern Ireland to survive and prosper.

My experience of the Dublin forum helped confirm that unionism can have a long-term future when it divorces itself from Watchman’s subtle obsession with dog fights. Both unionism and nationalism have at times found themselves in similar sectarian cul-de-sacs with their sacred cows in perpetual motion. These sacred entities seem inviolable and non-negotiable and as long as they dominate, final resolution of our problems may escape us.

Today those closest to our violent past seem to dominate the political landscape and many remain entranced by sectarian concerns. But unionism no longer represents only small minds and self-defeating philosophies. It is constantly being broadened and widened and has the capacity to foster mutual respect and tolerance right across the island and beyond.

  • The Watchman

    Did Roy even READ my article? In it I called on the UUP to compete for the unionist vote as a constitutionally sound, non-sectarian and non-parochial party. Hardly a case of “traditional sectarian dog fights”.

    Roy says, “Both unionism and nationalism have at times found themselves in similar sectarian cul-de-sacs with their sacred cows in perpetual motion.”

    Oh for goodness sake! So Roy thinks that the requirement for all parties to be democratic in belief and conduct is merely a “sacred cow”, rather than a fundamental requirement of the democratic process?

    Why should “broad” and “wide” unionism (his terms) be the preserve of that minority of unionists who allowed themselves to be conned by Sinn Fein over and over again?

  • fair_deal

    This is dictatorial drivel. If your Unionist discourse does not follow the meaningless community-relations-speak tripe then Trimblistas immediately jump to the sectarian charge. Closing their minds to there being more than one non-sectarian path to broadening Unionism.

  • drumcree

    Watchman –

    The response from moderate ulster unionism to your post election obserations on the UUP’s misdiagnosis of the DNA of the Republican movement has been positive.

    The sheer number of posts in response to your latest article, and the extent to which you have irked “The Roy Garlands” is telling – perhaps the time is right to reveal yourself on Slugger and move this debate on to the next stage.

  • G2

    “Why should “broad” and “wide” unionism (his terms) be the preserve of that minority of unionists who allowed themselves to be conned by Sinn Fein over and over again”

    Watchman,

    The supporters of “broad & wide” unionism had the balls to go into assembly with SF (& other parties) in 1998 to give the GFA and SF a chance. Trimble & his followers were conned & deceived by Tony Blair when he refused to uphold the letter he wrote when SF refused to decommission, within two years.
    See decommisioning sect on website:
    http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/today/good_friday/full_text.html

    “According Reg Empey, one of Trimble’s closest confidants, the UUP were five minutes from walking out when Northern Ireland Office officials shoved a copy of a letter from Blair into his hands.

    The letter reassured Trimble on two critical points: that politicians connected with paramilitary organisations which refused to hand over weapons would not hold office in any Northern Ireland government; and that, in the British Government’s view, the process of decommissioning would have to begin immediately after the assembly came into being in June.”
    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/nireland/story/0,11008,582063,00.html

  • G2

    “Why should “broad” and “wide” unionism (his terms) be the preserve of that minority of unionists who allowed themselves to be conned by Sinn Fein over and over again”

    Watchman,

    The supporters of “broad & wide” unionism had the balls to go into assembly with SF (& other parties) in 1998 to give the GFA and SF a chance. Trimble & his followers were conned & deceived by Tony Blair when he refused to uphold the letter he wrote when SF refused to decommission, within two years.
    See decommisioning sect on website:
    http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/today/good_friday/full_text.html

    “According Reg Empey, one of Trimble’s closest confidants, the UUP were five minutes from walking out when Northern Ireland Office officials shoved a copy of a letter from Blair into his hands.

    The letter reassured Trimble on two critical points: that politicians connected with paramilitary organisations which refused to hand over weapons would not hold office in any Northern Ireland government; and that, in the British Government’s view, the process of decommissioning would have to begin immediately after the assembly came into being in June.”
    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/nireland/story/0,11008,582063,00.html

  • G2

    “Why should “broad” and “wide” unionism (his terms) be the preserve of that minority of unionists who allowed themselves to be conned by Sinn Fein over and over again”

    Watchman,

    The supporters of “broad & wide” unionism had the balls to go into assembly with SF (& other parties) in 1998 to give the GFA and SF a chance. Trimble & his followers were conned & deceived by Tony Blair when he refused to uphold the letter he wrote when SF refused to decommission, within two years.
    See decommisioning sect on website:
    http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/today/good_friday/full_text.html

    “According Reg Empey, one of Trimble’s closest confidants, the UUP were five minutes from walking out when Northern Ireland Office officials shoved a copy of a letter from Blair into his hands.

    The letter reassured Trimble on two critical points: that politicians connected with paramilitary organisations which refused to hand over weapons would not hold office in any Northern Ireland government; and that, in the British Government’s view, the process of decommissioning would have to begin immediately after the assembly came into being in June.”
    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/nireland/story/0,11008,582063,00.html

  • G2

    “Why should “broad” and “wide” unionism (his terms) be the preserve of that minority of unionists who allowed themselves to be conned by Sinn Fein over and over again”

    Watchman,

    The supporters of “broad & wide” unionism had the balls to go into assembly with SF (& other parties) in 1998 to give the GFA and SF a chance. Trimble & his followers were conned & deceived by Tony Blair when he refused to uphold the letter he wrote when SF refused to decommission, within two years.
    See decommisioning sect on website:
    http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/today/good_friday/full_text.html

    “According Reg Empey, one of Trimble’s closest confidants, the UUP were five minutes from walking out when Northern Ireland Office officials shoved a copy of a letter from Blair into his hands.

    The letter reassured Trimble on two critical points: that politicians connected with paramilitary organisations which refused to hand over weapons would not hold office in any Northern Ireland government; and that, in the British Government’s view, the process of decommissioning would have to begin immediately after the assembly came into being in June.”
    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/nireland/story/0,11008,582063,00.html

  • g2

    “Why should “broad” and “wide” unionism (his terms) be the preserve of that minority of unionists who allowed themselves to be conned by Sinn Fein over and over again”

    Watchman,

    The supporters of “broad & wide” unionism had the balls to go into assembly with SF (& other parties) in 1998 to give the GFA and SF a chance. Trimble & his followers were conned & deceived by Tony Blair when he refused to uphold the letter he wrote when SF refused to decommission, within two years.
    See decommisioning sect on website:
    http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/today/good_friday/full_text.html

    “According Reg Empey, one of Trimble’s closest confidants, the UUP were five minutes from walking out when Northern Ireland Office officials shoved a copy of a letter from Blair into his hands.

    The letter reassured Trimble on two critical points: that politicians connected with paramilitary organisations which refused to hand over weapons would not hold office in any Northern Ireland government; and that, in the British Government’s view, the process of decommissioning would have to begin immediately after the assembly came into being in June.”
    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/nireland/story/0,11008,582063,00.html

  • Eddo

    Th reality is UUP isn’t ready, willing or able to support the union without reference to the symbols of a state to which non-unionists are unwilling or unable to ascribe legitimacy – tail wagging dog ? If the arguments for a continuation os the union are as obvious as they keep telling us, particularly economically, why do they need to wrap themselves in the union flag to persuade those of us not at all passionate about a 32 county Ireland but appalled at the sectarianism of unionist politics generally ?

  • GavBelfast

    Eddo, what are these symbols? The Union Jack on the City Hall or insignia on the outside of the High Court? The coins? The stamps?

    Apart from the fact of NI’s place in the UK, what else is REALLY offending to non-Unionists who not pro-Irish Unity?

    (I’m being serious.)

  • Eddo

    Gav

    I accept that the UUP have gone some way to jettisoning the revolting OO of late however they have a long way to go to persuade non-unionists that unionism represents a stage further along the line from the old OUP ethos – ‘to be Protestant and unionist is normal, to be anyone/anything else in this stafe is controversial’. Unless or until they persuade me that I don’t have to sign up to outdated and overt notions of empire-hugging ultra-Britishness and condescend to any manifestation of Irishness or catholicism or that I have a non-white skin or am youthful and internationalist then I shan’t be minded to vote UUP no matter how ‘tory-minded’ I actually am, it’s really that simple. What’s my ‘in’ here ?!

  • GavBelfast

    Eddo, fair enough, but why not just be content with NI being in the UK then, but happy that you’re of Ireland, too, and don’t alingn yourself to a party. I don’t think the sort of image you paint is one that people would feel galvanised about – more a sort of apathetic contentment.

    Bu then there’s nowt wrong with being a passive UK-ite, is there?

    There are tens of thousands of them apparently!

  • The Watchman

    Drumcree,

    Thanks for the compliment but we watchmen are prophets shining the light in the wilderness for someone else. Up the Portadown Brethren, BTW.

    G2

    If you and others let yourselves be duped that Blair was ever going to keep those handwritten pledges, then that’s your issue. Personally, if I had been conned like you, I’d be too embarrassed to mention it.

  • bertie

    “The supporters of “broad & wide” unionism had the balls to go into assembly with SF (& other parties) in 1998 to give the GFA and SF a chance.”

    I am not sure that it took “balls” to give SF/IRA the chance of corrupting the Criminal Justice System with release of prisoners etc. etc. It took a fundamental lack of judgement and morality. If politicians do not have good judgement and a moral base, I’d just as soon they didn’t have “balls”.

  • The Watchman

    Does anyone know the address (or e-address) for letters to the Irish News?

  • Gonzo

    It’s n.doran@irishnews.com

    I presume this is your right to reply to Garland’s piece. Send it to me to, and we’ll publish it.

  • G2

    If politicians do not have good judgement and a moral base, I’d just as soon they didn’t have “balls”.

    I take you must be a Maggie Thatcher adorer?

  • G2

    “Does anyone know the address (or e-address) for letters to the Irish News?”

    Dont be giving anymore clues away watchman otherwise we might think you are one of friends of the Union living in London.

  • bertie

    “I take you must be a Maggie Thatcher adorer?”

    She’s not in my top ten.

    There are those who say she had more balls than most of the men!

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    I suppose the dilemma here is ‘what is unionism anyway?’ I think Roy in this case is conceiving of a broader and deeper ideological movement which can take a number of forms and expressions. As I se it and to use a categorisation its really Norman Porters civic unionism vs. the cultural unionism that is so obviously the realm of the DUP. In this way his criticisms of watchman and sometimes though less so fairdeal have some validity. I don’t think Roy means that they are sectarian but they have an obsession with the expressions of cultural unionism that can tend to crowd out civic unionism and appear externally to be overly concerned with sectarian dogfights. That is not to say that either of them doesn’t actually aspire to a non sectarian unionism but if their aspiration is actually to a non sectarian cultural unionism then that is probably contradictory and Roy’s criticisms of them has a degree of validity.

    On a side note. No one in their right mind believed in Blair’s side letter. It actually pushed me to a no in the UUC vote in April 1998 and made it very hard to endorse the agreement in the referenda. If it was worth anything(questionable) then it timed out as the letter stated to paraphrase‘ if within the first 6 months of the Assembly the mechanism for exclusion is unsatisfactory then the government will take action etc…’ Trimble never cashed it in time because he set up the ‘No Guns, no government’ pledge and stopped the Assembly executive from being properly formed. In my view that was the period when the UUP lost the initiative. But I do understand why he did it and the community sensitivities and moral issues involved but with hindsight I still would class that as the biggest process management mistake. Never should have promised what we couldn’t deliver, that’s always going to bite you in the ass. Mind you ‘smash the IRA?’ I suppose it works for some people!

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    If I make a comment about Paul Berry will this thread explode into action?

    I wonder if Roy reads Slugger anyway?

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Kein dank!

    is that ok as my germans pretty rusty.

  • The Watchman

    Yes, G2 the Sucker, I do now live in London. I’ve never hidden it, although I’m not the person I bet you think I am.

  • Roy Garland

    Watchman of London 4 has replied to my article in the Irish News today saying he is flattered that I should devote a column to his article on Slugger O’Toole but of course I only used some of his comments on which to base the article because he is a good example of a (declining) mindset here.

    He says he has always opposed the Belfast Agreement and I accept that it did not bring stable self-government and neither did previous systems. This was mainly due to the what I have called ‘sectarian dog fights’. It is easy in this divided society to destroy any system by hyping up traditional sectarian based attitudes, suspicions and fears. Yet the GFA remains central to the future with the DUP clearly taking advantage of its provisions to do a deal with republicans if at all possible.

    The priority should be to devise and impliment a system that meets the needs of the whole broad community whereas despite denials, Watchman types want a continuation of the same old failed policies of the past. His mentors are the same failed old politicians of yesterday.

    Watchman refers to me having cheered ‘failed political ambitions’ of critics but it was his own failed ambitions that I referred to and I didn’t cheer.

    I wish him well and hope he wises up.

    Roy Garland

  • Roy Garland

    Watchman of London 4 has replied to my article in the Irish News today saying he is flattered that I should devote a column to his article on Slugger O’Toole but of course I only used some of his comments on which to base the article because he is a good example of a (declining) mindset here.

    He says he has always opposed the Belfast Agreement and I accept that it did not bring stable self-government and neither did previous systems. This was mainly due to the what I have called ‘sectarian dog fights’. It is easy in this divided society to destroy any system by hyping up traditional sectarian based attitudes, suspicions and fears. Yet the GFA remains central to the future with the DUP clearly taking advantage of its provisions to do a deal with republicans if at all possible.

    The priority should be to devise and impliment a system that meets the needs of the whole broad community whereas despite denials, Watchman types want a continuation of the same old failed policies of the past. His mentors are the same failed old politicians of yesterday.

    Watchman refers to me having cheered ‘failed political ambitions’ of critics but it was his own failed ambitions that I referred to and I didn’t cheer.

    I wish him well and hope he wises up.

    Roy Garland

  • roy Garland

    Watchman of London 4 has replied to my article in the Irish News today saying he is flattered that I should devote a column to his article on Slugger O’Toole but of course I only used some of his comments on which to base the article because he is a good example of a (declining) mindset here.

    He says he has always opposed the Belfast Agreement and I accept that it did not bring stable self-government and neither did previous systems. This was mainly due to the what I have called ‘sectarian dog fights’. It is easy in this divided society to destroy any system by hyping up traditional sectarian based attitudes, suspicions and fears. Yet the GFA remains central to the future with the DUP clearly taking advantage of its provisions to do a deal with republicans if at all possible.

    The priority should be to devise and impliment a system that meets the needs of the whole broad community whereas despite denials, Watchman types want a continuation of the same old failed policies of the past. His mentors are the same failed old politicians of yesterday.

    Watchman refers to me having cheered ‘failed political ambitions’ of critics but it was his own failed ambitions that I referred to and I didn’t cheer.

    I wish him well and hope he wises up.

    Roy Garland

  • G2

    “There are those who say she had more balls than most of the men!”

    Who would that be, friends of Watchman London 4 like Burnside & Smyth el at?

  • G2

    “Yes, G2 the Sucker, I do now live in London. I’ve never hidden it, although I’m not the person I bet you think I am”

    And who might I ask do you think I think you are?

  • bertie

    G2

    Re you & Watchman I am feeling very out of the loop. Is there a parallel Slugger that I have missed out on?

    “Dont be giving anymore clues away watchman otherwise we might think you are one of friends of the Union living in London.”

    Is this a reference to Friends Of The Union?

    “”There are those who say she had more balls than most of the men!”

    Who would that be, friends of Watchman London 4 like Burnside & Smyth el at?”

    This quotes me but I don’t think I am meant to understand it.

    Would it be sinister if Watchman lives in London, is a member of FOTU or is friendly with Burnside & Smyth?

    Please satisfy my curiosity.

  • bertie

    G2

    Re you & Watchman I am feeling very out of the loop. Is there a parallel Slugger that I have missed out on?

    “Dont be giving anymore clues away watchman otherwise we might think you are one of friends of the Union living in London.”

    Is this a reference to Friends Of The Union?

    “”There are those who say she had more balls than most of the men!”

    Who would that be, friends of Watchman London 4 like Burnside & Smyth el at?”

    This quotes me but I don’t think I am meant to understand it.

    Would it be sinister if Watchman lives in London, is a member of FOTU or is friendly with Burnside & Smyth?

    Please satisfy my curiosity.

  • bertie

    G2

    Re you & Watchman I am feeling very out of the loop. Is there a parallel Slugger that I have missed out on?

    “Dont be giving anymore clues away watchman otherwise we might think you are one of friends of the Union living in London.”

    Is this a reference to Friends Of The Union?

    “”There are those who say she had more balls than most of the men!”

    Who would that be, friends of Watchman London 4 like Burnside & Smyth el at?”

    This quotes me but I don’t think I am meant to understand it.

    Would it be sinister if Watchman lives in London, is a member of FOTU or is friendly with Burnside & Smyth?

    Please satisfy my curiosity.

  • bertie

    G2

    Re you & Watchman I am feeling very out of the loop. Is there a parallel Slugger that I have missed out on?

    “Dont be giving anymore clues away watchman otherwise we might think you are one of friends of the Union living in London.”

    Is this a reference to Friends Of The Union?

    “”There are those who say she had more balls than most of the men!”

    Who would that be, friends of Watchman London 4 like Burnside & Smyth el at?”

    This quotes me but I don’t think I am meant to understand it.

    Would it be sinister if Watchman lives in London, is a member of FOTU or is friendly with Burnside & Smyth?

    Please satisfy my curiosity.

  • bertie

    G2

    Re you & Watchman I am feeling very out of the loop. Is there a parallel Slugger that I have missed out on?

    “Dont be giving anymore clues away watchman otherwise we might think you are one of friends of the Union living in London.”

    Is this a reference to Friends Of The Union?

    “”There are those who say she had more balls than most of the men!”

    Who would that be, friends of Watchman London 4 like Burnside & Smyth el at?”

    This quotes me but I don’t think I am meant to understand it.

    Would it be sinister if Watchman lives in London, is a member of FOTU or is friendly with Burnside & Smyth?

    Please satisfy my curiosity.

  • G2

    “Please satisfy my curiosity”

    No need to Bertie, the Watchman’s mask has been removed. .

  • bertie

    Oh dear, I’ve had another bout of multiple repetative post disorder. Are there tablets?

    Just to clarify G2. I don’t want you to unmask watchman for me (even though I am curious), we are all entitled to anonimity, but am I right in thinking that this is an issue between the two of you and the rest of us can’t be expected to understand or am I the only one in the dark?