NATIONALIST DEAD END: I recently had a robust exchange with a gentleman who had become quite impressed by the Scottish Nationalist Party. He argued that the onus was on unionism to now tender a counter attack.
I was, I must confess, quite annoyed at this proposed challenge. My gut instinct was that holding the incumbent position meant that one’s opponent had the work to do. But soon after this discussion an image entered my head. It was the image of the late David Ervine the Loyalist paramilitary prisoner and one time leader of the Progressive Unionist Party. Ervine is stood flanked by fellow unionists at an outdoor press gathering. It was in the 1990’s as the peace process was first finding its unsteady feet. Ervine coolly leaned forward toward the microphone and said, “Let the debate begin. We’re ready.” It was an inspiring statement despite its simplicity. It was succinct and strong. It was a challenge issued by a man who could not possibly have been more confident. This was a man thoroughly at peace with who he was, and what he wanted to say.