What Unionists Should Strive For

This week, we’re featuring submissions from readers on the theme of ‘Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations about Unity and the Union’. Competition winners will be published on Saturday.

Alan Robinson is an Orangeman hailing from Carrickfergus.

I’m an Orangeman, play in a flute band and support the Northern Ireland football team. If you only knew those three things about me, the stereotype of a loyalist skinhead would probably be conjured from the subconscious. 

Dig a little deeper and see what you find: pro-European, although not necessarily pro-EU; committed to equality under the law for every individual; happy for language rights to be enshrined in legislation; proud to be British when the UK represents the best of democracy, civility, hospitality and progressive humanity. 

Many of these things are aspirational. As a Unionist, it is my “job” to ensure that my individual take on Britishness is represented because, at its core, I believe that Britishness is Unionism. Being British is a union of disparate backgrounds, ethnicities, histories and families all aiming to succeed collectively. 

Oftentimes and around the world as well as at home, we have failed to live up to those ideals. Sometimes that’s because the values that I ascribe to weren’t British values 200 years ago. Sometimes it is because we made mistakes. While sometimes we deliberately ignored rights.

It would be an abdication of responsibility to blame it on “the Establishment” also. If we the people were really so disgusted by the system, we would have done something to change it.

So the UK has the potential to be recast. It always has. And the aim is to create a society where every member is supported to fulfil his or her potential to the best of his or her ability within a nation that can provide it, within its means.

And that is what Unionists should strive for, right now.