It’s had a muted response, both here on Slugger and in the wider media but this intervention from a group of Civic Unionists and unaligned others makes some senior points about the way NI politics is conducted as though they did not exist.
I hope we’ll have a direct contribution from the group here on Slugger, but for now here’s the text…
“We the undersigned desire a transparent and inclusive debate concerning rights, truth, equality and civil liberties and in so doing challenge assumptions that such values are not embedded within civic unionism, pluralism and other identities.
We are motivated by the desire to build a society for the betterment of everyone. This cannot happen when such a commitment is perceived as being vested in one community or political persuasion. We find it frustrating and puzzling that civic unionism, pluralists and other forms of civic leadership have been rendered invisible in many debates focused on rights and responsibilities. It has reduced our capacity to be heard and undermines the power of reconciliation to shift society away from stale and limiting notions of identity.
We have worked for peace and reconciliation and in so doing have had open and transparent engagement with civic nationalism. That has included recognition of the need for equality and most importantly the urgent need for polarised communities in Northern Ireland to reconcile and deal with barriers to a better future.
To achieve this requires the recognition that withholding truth presents as such. This is not unique to any institution or section within our society but where it is a selective process, healing a pernicious and destabilising past remains as a challenge to us all.
Civic unionism, and other identities are not resistant to claims of equality and full citizenship. These identities are central to the development of an authentically fair and tolerant society.
We wish to unite, not divide, and in encouraging transparency we call upon civic nationalism and others to engage with us in frank and fulsome debates about the many values and beliefs that are commonly shared and are vital to transforming the issues that we face.
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