Lindy McDowell argues that the old Northern Irish narrative of protestant privilege is not only wrong and misleading but it also betrays a wilful misreading of the current crisis in Unionist communities.
She points to the inanity of how Unionists are talked about and treated in public discourse:
The shipyard is still used as a stick to beat the Prods. These days it’s employed in the debate about the inequality of educational attainment in unionist working class areas. The line is that since Prods had all those jobs in the shipyard they never had to worry about education.
If I had a pound for every time I have been told by really quite intelligent people who would recoil at the notion they might be in any way sectarian that “Protestants don’t value education” I could open a private school. Don’t people realise how deeply offensive, never mind wrong, this is?
And the disjuncture between working class communities and their political representatives on one hand and,
…where have those traditional defenders of the working class, the trade unions, been in all this? Rightly or wrongly the trade union movement in Northern Ireland is perceived in Protestant areas as being biased in favour of nationalism. Shouldn’t this be an issue for debate? Shouldn’t it all be an issue for debate?