Choyaa: Unless the Orange Institution evolves to meet the needs of both its members and society at large, then it is finished…

The phrase “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” has been disproven on numerous occasions, but never was this phrase less apt than when it comes to the Orange Institution, an organisation that haphazardly plods from one publicity to disaster to the next. There has never been much in the way of self-reflection within the Orange Institution on its many gaffs, the leadership prefers instead to carry on regardless whilst blaming others for its problems, an approach that has caused …

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Choyaa: Unionism and the Unity Debates…

brown concrete bridge besides green plants during daytime

Irish Unity forums are not a new phenomenon, they have existed for many years but in recent times calls for Unionists to attend these events have started to amplify. These calls were made again this week at an “Ireland’s Future” future event held at Westminster; however, the calls came from an unusual source. Stephen Farry from the Alliance party used his platform at the event to outline how his party would help “shape the conversation” and warned Unionists that they …

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Choyaa: Unionism continues to decline and decay…

Close-up of dahlias using focus stacking. Ont their final days.

On February 28th, 2022, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was dominating the news and any segments left on the schedules were being devoted to the cost-of-living crisis that was gripping the world. At this time in Northern Ireland, the main item on Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show was a 60 minutes interview with UUP leader Doug Beattie about a failed attempt to get Jeffery Donaldson to re-join the party in May of 2021. The initial story broke on February 23rd when …

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Unionism cannot expect Sinn Féin to keep saving the Union…

giant's causeway, northern ireland, rocks

Phelim Grant and Charles McCann were members of the IRA who died when a bomb they were placing exploded prematurely. At the beginning of February, some Republicans, including members of Sinn Féin marked their death by holding a commemorative event. During the commemoration, Sinn Féin’s ‘Unionist Outreach Officer’, Declan Kearney, gave a speech talking about the inevitability of a United Ireland, part of the speech was aimed at “Protestants and Unionists”, Kearney’s message to them was that “we want you …

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The Untold Story of Ulster Protestantism…

As part of my unofficial English GCSE curriculum that was set by my teacher, there was a part that consisted of watching the movie “Michael Collins” (1996), studying its themes and some of the subsequent writings and poetry from that era, specifically focusing on the Easter Rising. In my naivety at the time, I asked if we would be studying any movies that would show the Unionist or indeed Protestant perspective? The response was that no such film or TV …

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Choyaa: The UUP – Is the Former Empire Striking Back?

The Centenary of Northern Ireland has presented political Unionism with some of its most significant challenges, from dealing with a declining base, the Northern Ireland Protocol, an unenthused electorate, and greater political isolation than ever before, adding to this are the huge internal problems within both the DUP and UUP. This has all made the centenary year memorable if for all the wrong reasons. The UUP, in recent months, have been going through a transformation and following their party conference …

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We Didn’t Start the Fire – The Ongoing Problems with Bonfires…

Inevitably as we enter July in Northern Ireland, there is much talk about the parading season. With that, I thought it would be a good time to discuss one of the most controversial elements that accompany the parading season, namely bonfires and, specifically, Eleventh-night bonfires. Bonfires are a difficult subject; even within the Unionist community, there is not widespread support for them, and many Unionists are dismayed by the negative trappings associated with some bonfires. Bonfires are legitimate expressions of …

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Orange Institution and Politics…

Much has been said in recent times about how Unionist voices are not being heard, however, when Reverend Mervyn Gibson appeared on ‘Talkback’ recently it was one of those times when I wished this sentiment was true. Reverend Gibson was interviewed in his capacity as the Grand Secretary of the Orange Institution; however, his appearance was at times a mix of poor representation, misrepresentation and it also added further confusion as to what the Orange Institution stands for. It also …

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Fragmented Unionism and Broad Churches…

It has long been the formula within political Unionism that if a Unionist party is both united and able to accommodate a broad church of Unionist opinion then it will be the dominant Unionist party. In many ways this formula has never been attained within political Unionism, however, in recent times it’s becoming more difficult to find a party that can solve this formula, and never has this been more apparent than now. However, is the formula relevant in 2021 …

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Has the UUP Past the Point of Rescue?

With the DUP being in a highly distressed state, this should be an opportune time for the UUP to step up and assume the leadership of Unionism. However, the UUP at present is not fit for purpose and few are considering them as a viable option at the forthcoming election. Rather than being contenders to the throne, the UUP is in reality simply fighting for its political survival. Some UUP members have contacted me to query why I never discuss …

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Who can save the DUP?

In December of 2016 when Jonathan Bell revealed to Stephen Nolan the extent of the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scandal, Arlene Foster’s tenure as leader of the DUP was over. This was a sliding doors moment for the DUP, Unionism, and Northern Ireland as a whole, by remaining in charge Arlene Foster has undoubtedly damaged all three entities when this scenario was avoidable had she resigned at the time. This week a significant number of DUP elected representatives including over …

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Unionism in a tailspin is bad for Unionism but it’s bad for everyone in Northern Ireland too…

For some time now I have been voicing grave concerns about the direction in which Unionism is travelling in and indeed the underlying problems that have hamstrung it, however, over the last week we have seen Unionism and Loyalism in a tailspin, and as both groupings begin to lose control, pockets of violence have broken out across Northern Ireland. The core issues that have stymied Unionism at present are as follows: – Leadership vacuum – Lacking a vision – Incompetence …

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Unionism Playing Senior Hurling?

For many in the Nationalist community, the ‘United Ireland’ debate broadcast on RTE and hosted by Claire Byrne was highly significant as it represented the first such debate on mainstream Irish media. Following the debate, I was sent a short message from a Nationalist friend that went, “Unionism is now playing senior hurling and you’ve lost the first match”. My last article for Slugger outlining why I felt it was an apt time for Unionism to be confident and call …

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Unionism needs to step out from the shadows on the Unity referendum question…

It’s difficult to avoid the reality that discussions about a referendum on the constitutional position of Northern Ireland are gaining momentum. For better or for worse it has become part of our daily lexicon in which every problem within Northern Ireland that arises is a result of partition which can easily be rectified if only the island was united. It also means that every mistake Unionism makes (and there are innumerable) make the demands for a referendum louder. The conversations …

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Unionism Fighting a Border Poll…

There are two fixed rules within Unionism – (1) you do not talk about a ‘Border Referendum’ and (2) you do not talk about a ‘Border Referendum’. However, today I will break that cardinal rule and discuss how Unionism approaches such a referendum and what we can learn from the two recent big referendums, namely ‘Scottish Independence’ and ‘Brexit’. It’s difficult to hide that calls for a ‘Border Referendum’ have been growing in recent years. We may not be quite …

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Unionism’s Year-End Review…

During a year in which a global pandemic has eclipsed all other matters in Northern Ireland, Unionism still managed to have an extremely troubled 365 days which has left it in a damaged and weakened position. As it is the time of year for year-end reviews, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how Unionism has performed in 2020. The major talking point is the Northern Ireland Protocol which has come about as a result of …

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Unionisms Difficulty Reaching Out…

When discussing Unionism, a characteristic often cited is the difficult relationship it has with anyone from outside of its ideology. However, it would be equally true to state that Unionism has a difficult relationship with itself, both its internal and external relationships are a problem. In this article, I wanted to focus on Unionist outreach in terms of those seeking to better understand Unionism and also how Unionism projects itself onto others. Nobody Understands Us Unionism is unhelpfully stereotyped by …

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Some thoughts on leadership within Unionism…

When talking about Unionism in Northern Ireland, one of the most frequent issues brought up is leadership. Looking at Sinn Fein, the SDLP, and Alliance, there is an abundance of effective leadership on display with more in reserve if the need arises. Unionism, by contrast, is not experiencing similar fortunes, and this has become an issue. Never before has leadership within Unionism been so problematic, especially during a time that could eventually define Northern Ireland. With a massive appetite for …

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There’s no Twelfth, so no parades or bonfires are required…

As a starting point, I am fully aware of the irony, I’m an Orangeman, penning an article outlining my opposition to any type of parade or bonfire over the Twelfth weekend this year. Like Unionism, Orangeism (bands, lodges, and supporters) doesn’t do long term planning, so when the leadership of the Loyal Orange Institution (LOI) decided to cancel this year’s Twelfth celebrations back in March, it was an unexpected and decisive move. The Institution made a long terms decision (well …

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If Unionism is to maintain Northern Ireland’s membership of the UK then it must change and evolve – otherwise, it will become a footnote in a forgotten story…

There is an old joke within Orange circles that goes, if you put 10 Orangemen into a room for 3 hours and task them with putting together a strategy on their lodge’s ambition for the next 10 years, the outcome would be – 15 completely different and contradicting ideas that all must be implemented. The results being 3 people leaving the Orange for good (2 indicating it’s gone soft, 1 citing it’s got too extreme), 3 leave to set up …

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