What’s the point of nationalism?

Considering some of the debate we’ve been picking up in recent week, Dennis Kennedy and Arthur Green argue that in persisting towards an aim outside the current polity of Northern Ireland, nationalism can only destroy the short term aim of establishing peaceful relations between the two main communities. They ask: can an Irish identity be expressed and enjoyed only within an independent Irish state? Why make unification the defining factor in nationalist political endeavour when it is impossible without the majority consent, which is unobtainable?

Not all of their argument is aimed at Nationalists:

Not all the rethinking has to be done by nationalists and governments. If unionists want a peaceful Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom they have to do what they can to ensure that it is a Northern Ireland in which nationalists can feel at ease. Unionists should ask themselves whether defending the right of every Orangeman to walk where he always did is the proper way to go about this. Marching may be the visible sign of a community feeling marginalised and threatened, but unionists should adopt a much more nuanced approach to Orange marches if they wish to win sympathy rather than condemnation. Similarly, apparent reluctance to condemn Loyalist thuggery does nothing for the image of unionism or community relations.

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