Hain seemed to be targeting unionist apparent reluctance (his Glenties speech was aimed at Republicans) to move towards the November deadline, and even threatened to pull the plug on the Assembly if he saw fit. However, he denied this was not a game of political chicken. At the British Irish Association last night he addressed them directly when he said, “the Union itself is evolving – it is not fossilised – and Northern Ireland cannot proceed as if it was hermetically sealed from that development”. Hain also reassured unionists they had:
…every right to be confident in their culture, in their politics, in their politicians” as the “ballot box is the ultimate guarantor of security”. In a power-sharing government based on equality, everyone is stronger by definition, because everyone is respected and given weight.
“The Union of 2006 is different from the Union of 1926 or of 1966. Being part of the Union now means being part of a forward-looking, dynamic economy and a society that has long ceased to be mono-cultural. The Union itself is evolving – it is not fossilised – and Northern Ireland cannot proceed as if it was hermetically sealed from that development.”
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