No question of unseating parity of esteem…

Dennis Bradley with an interesting line on policing, unionism and ‘the new deal’…

Unionist politics has been accused of great deficiencies throughout its history. It has been accused of narrowness, bigotry, negativity and fearfulness. Some or all of those are possibly true and indeed are often acknowledged by unionists themselves.

A more correct critique, however, has been its failure to understand the need to deliver safety to its own people. Perhaps it might be more accurate to say that the options it chose to secure that safety were inadequate, inept, even downright wrong. Safety is not an inspiring word. It is not the stuff of poetry or song. It does not stir the imagination or excite the passions.

Remove it, however, and its very absence reveals its importance.

Quite so. And Bradley himself has direct experience of the absence of such safety. He goes on to argue that ‘high security’ and safety are not synonymous, and that it time that Unionism learned that the time for a ‘fortress Ulster’ has passed. He notes however that:

…there is still the threat, sometimes implied, sometimes spoken, that too great a speed or too great a desire to impose Joint Authority or Joint Stewardship between the two governments would result in a backlash from loyalist paramilitaries.

If that kind of threat were emanating from any nationalist quarter there would be justifiable anger within unionism and questions as to the suitability of that party for government. I think loyalist paramilitaries have been used and abused too often to fall into that trap again.

Despite this, he reckons the British (unquestionably, in his view, the drivers of this process) have weighed up “the deal that will opt for the position that provides the most safety to the greatest number of people” – ie one that brings the Republican movement along with it.

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