Perhaps it is time for Unionists to do some public thinking about their own history…?

As the week draws to a close some interesting material has been drawn to the top of our collective consciousness. I suspect that slowly it will dawn on some of our own politicians (not just unionist ones) that saying no will barely suffice for the winding road ahead.

Here’s Alex Kane with some important home truths for those on the Unionist side

… unionists do tend to focus on the ‘physical force’ tradition within republicanism while glossing over their own attitudes and responses at the time. They also tend to remain mute on the subject of the reach and swagger of the British Empire at that point in history: possibly because the collapse of that Empire from 1945 onwards had worried and spooked them. And there is precious little evidence of any significant voices within unionism raising concerns about the alleged British State sanctioned brutality in a number of colonies and possessions which were seeking independence in the 1950s and 1960s.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the unionist-dominated Northern Ireland was, from the 1920s to the late 1960s, run very differently to the rest of the UK. It was a one-party state that regarded non-unionists as the enemy and even viewed liberals within its own ranks as potential troublemakers. Again, that’s a conversation unionists tend not to have with each other, let alone with anyone else.

In five years time unionists will be ‘celebrating,’ ‘commemorating’ and ‘cheering’ the birth of Northern Ireland. Perhaps it’s time we looked at our own history. How have we run Northern Ireland? What does the rest of the world think when they think of Northern Ireland and of unionism? What is the nature of the relationship between unionism and our fellow unionists across the rest of the UK? Why do so many unionists still have difficulty when it comes to ‘trusting’ Westminster? Why, even though Northern Ireland is still (and reasonably safely so) in the UK, is unionism still so prone to bickering and division?…

Those are very important questions which will not wait until the last three months towards what I would argue was the far more momentous occasion for Northern Ireland than the Easter Rising…

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

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