Northern Ireland

DUP founding member Wallace Thompson says nationalists need to reach out to unionists over unity

Wallace Thompson spoke at the Ireland’s Future event in Belfast.

Wallace Thompson speaks during a pro-unity group Ireland’s Future event at the SSE Arena, Belfast
Wallace Thompson speaks during a pro-unity group Ireland’s Future event at the SSE Arena, Belfast (Brian Lawless/PA)

A founding member of the DUP has said nationalists need to reach out to unionists as part of the discussion over Irish unity.

Wallace Thompson told the Ireland’s Future event in Belfast that he had received “terrible abuse” from unionists for suggesting that a united Ireland was inevitable.

He was taking part in a “Protestants perspective” panel discussion at the rally on Saturday.

Also taking part was former loyalist paramilitary and politician David Adams, who hit out at the Ireland’s Future movement for failing to reach out to unionists.



Mr Thompson described himself as an “evangelical Protestant” and a “lifelong supporter of the Rev Ian Paisley”.

He received applause for saying he was “outside his comfort zone” in taking part in the Irish unity event.

Mr Thompson said: “My conscience is clear. I have no difficulties setting out what I have been saying in the last two or three years, especially since the Brexit vote and the (Northern Ireland) Protocol.

“I am a unionist but I am on a journey. In that journey, it is vitally important that we all talk to each other as we think things through.

“I would want to encourage my nationalist and republican fellow countrymen and woman to engage with the loyalist, unionist, Protestant community.

“We may come across as triumphalist and bigoted, and all those things. I fully understand how perceptions can be vitally important in these matters.

“But, as a community, we often feel beleaguered and besieged, and over the years much of what we have said and done has been brought about by that feeling of insecurity, which can come over as triumphalist and overbearing.”

David Adams also spoke during a pro-unity group Ireland’s Future event
David Adams also spoke during a pro-unity group Ireland’s Future event (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Thompson said people had to try and move forward together.

He added: “I understand there are changes going to happen. I used the word inevitable about a new Ireland and I have been caught on that since; but it is, I think, on the way at some stage in the future.

“My own evangelical Protestant community have been surprisingly supportive but I have taken terrible stick and abuse from a lot of fellow unionists, which is sad but perhaps is inevitable.”

Loyalist Mr Adams said: “For an organisation like Ireland’s Future to ignore the need for reconciliation is bad enough, but worse by far, some of the most vocal leading lights have from the outset been expressing their opposition to it.”

He added: “An awful lot of Protestants feel that Ireland’s Future is on some sort of revenge mission, as in let’s nail the six onto the 26 and the Prods can either fit in or clear off back to England or Scotland.”