We inhabit, to quote ATQ Stewart the “narrow ground,” two ideologies opposed to one another from the very beginning always in a state of conflict with one another. Nationalists are chalk to my cheese, blur to my oasis,romulus to my remus.
A shared future concept is something that parties inNorthern Irelandwant. It is the basis that will entrench peace inNorthern Irelandand ensure that we never return to darker days. Martin McGuinness’ announcement at the Sinn Fein conference shows that only a shared future based on the Sinn Fein mantra would suffice.
Why should I give up my unionism in order to replace it with nationalism? Especially whenever those seeking to court me are the same people who for 30 years tried to bomb their way to a United Ireland? It is a fatal lack of understanding in what unionism represents. Unionists have spoken and voted for peace and voted for devolution. What they didn’t vote for was to wipe the slate clean.
Mick’s comments about Martin McGuinness evoking the language of Wolfe Tone fails. High on rhetoric, low on substance and even lower on credibility. Tone rallied many a protestant dissenter in his day with the promise of better times from under British rule. McGuinness promises better days from a dark past wherein he must take a large share of the blame. It is akin to the car thief trying to sell you your car back. It is something that is laughable to the unionist community and only more so because the same individuals fall for the shtick time and time again. Why not instead start this dialogue with the DUP, UUP and TUV, the ones with a democratic mandate?
From the SDLP unionists want nothing more than common sense. From a party that is supposed to represent constitutional nationalism it is baffling to unionists to see this party of modernity carrying dissidents coffins and raising a petition to have a man released from his conviction of attempting to murder a, now, DUP councillor. Again, Unionists voted for peace and with a willingness to work with nationalists, but the actions of the SDLP do not only harm to those relations but also to their position within the nationalist community.
So what is it about your average unionist that is not understood? Do nationalists even care? I have read enough comments on this site to discern that nationalist see unionists in two vague camps: the sash wearing, bible thumping super prod and the pinko liberal, North Down garden centre dweller. Left with a choice between a party that wants you to accept what they did for 30 years was right and a party that doesn’t agree with violence but is quite happy to support them all the same it is unlikely that Sammy from the Shankill or Jeremy from Helen’s Bay will whip off the sash or put down the secateurs and run into the warm open embrace of Martin or Alasdair.
Maybe nationalism is starting its own unicorn the nationalist voting prod as a way to inspire the faithful on for another push towards unification?
Episcopal, dissenter, protestant, catholic, atheist, black or white what links unionists together is the belief that Northern Ireland’s future is best within the United Kingdom. That is a fundamental and unalterable fact and to replace it with the debt laden mule of the Republic will not be something that is in the minds of many a nationalist never mind Unionist.
A shared society can work but not when nationalist give the clear message that it is either their way or no way.