FORGET shifting demographics – not only it is a glacially slow movement, but may never result in a nationalist majority – argues academic Peter Shirlow. Instead, the “political tradition that first gains significant votes across the divide will be the one which inherits and shapes the future”.
And that may be more about delivery on issues other than Northern Ireland’s constitutional position:
Politics must be about delivery and persuasion is about effectiveness and the removal of threat. People on this island want the North to work and a future generation will be able to make more reasoned judgments about the constitutional future if that decision is based upon a politics that begins to work and is relevant to them beyond the fact that they were born into any particular community.
Just today, in the Irish News, the importance to tribal politicians of attracting support from ‘themmuns’ was seen in Diana Rusk’s interview with Martin McGuinness. She writes:
He tells a story of how while canvassing in Magherafelt, a woman invited him into her home after telling him she wasn’t “a co-religionist” and then informed him she was going to vote for him.
“That happened on a number of occasions and I have to say ity had an immense impact on me that people were prepared to make it clear that they could cross what was at one stage an unbridgeable void.”
It might be anecdotal and exceptional, but McGuinness obviously has reasons for viewing it as significant.
Even Paisley recognised the importance of delivery and by many accounts worked hard for Catholic constituents, although whether that convinced many of the benefits of the Union is another matter.