Fascinating response from Alex Kane to Norman Hamilton’s presentation at our post election breakfast. It’s feisty and combative and he takes on the idea that government should take on the task of creating a shared future that remains deeply unpopular at the polls:
What Mr Hamilton, along with a veritable army of heavily funded, self-justifying community workers and peace activists have failed to notice, is that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland have already agreed upon a ‘community relations agenda and a community relations strategy’. They are, in fact, happy enough to live apart and remain apart. No one is forcing them to do so: they choose to do so. Better still, in 1998 and subsequently they have endorsed political structures and institutions which are built upon a power-sharing system which props up their desire to be treated as separate communities.
For those who do want to ‘integrate’, there is nothing stopping them either. There are no laws to prevent Protestants and Roman Catholics, or unionists and republicans from co-habiting politically, socially or in the workplace. Indeed, Northern Ireland is drowning in legislation which protects all of us from sectarian discrimination.
Sinn Fein and the SDLP love the idea of a shared future, but only because they define it and promote it in rigidly political, constitutional terms. For them – and I have said this over and over again – a shared future involves treating unionism and republicanism as equals. And in so doing you remove all of the influence and importance that should be associated with majority opinion. For let’s not forget the fact that the pro-Union opinion is still the opinion of the majority here and I for one will never endorse a shared future doctrine which seeks to dilute or diminish that opinion.
My fear about those who do promote the shared future doctrine is that they are, in reality, promoting a very dangerous concept of political and social engineering. They want to turn Northern Ireland into something that most of the people of Northern Ireland don’t want it to be. The legislative methods and machinery they wish to deploy are every bit as invidious as the laws – in some cases enacted for ‘natural and Christian’ reasons – which underpinned both apartheid in South Africa and ‘Jim Crow’ in the US.
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