Noel Whelan with a sobering sanity check for all the parties to the Northern Ireland’s current political hysteria. He argues that Unionists are getting whipped up by the froth of emotive headlines around the disbandment of the home battalions of the RIR and missing the substance of the overall developments. Not least, the acceptance by Sinn Fein of what was known for years as the Unionist veto.
In fact, the main reason why Sinn Féin has raised the volume of its rhetoric about a united Ireland, with the launch of its Make Partition History campaign, is precisely because the North’s position within Britain is both de jure and de facto stronger than ever. Sinn Féin knows this to be the reality it is only unionism and loyalism that cannot see it. Instead, unionist leadership of all classes and all shades of orange has managed to convince itself and its population that they have suffered only defeats. Far from being more comfortable in their position they see threats everywhere.
They’ve done it again in recent weeks. Additional concessions in the form of disbandment and decommissioning are currently being wrung from the IRA by the impact of public opinion in the nationalist community in the North, in the Republic and in America in response to the Northern Bank robbery and the McCartney murder. However, even at what should be a moment of celebration for them, unionism and loyalism have found something to be defeated about.
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