Worst outcome of leadership election is a return to ‘ourselves alone' unionism
Arlene Foster’s demise will mark a huge turning point for unionism. The next leader will have to deal with a much-changed Northern Ireland – a growing, articulate and confident nationalist population, the EU Protocol, English nationalism and the emergence of a federal Britain. It is not time for the ‘Old Guard’ – they have had their day. The bulwark of Ulster unionism is gone, as is the ideal of a utopian United Ireland. Both these ideas have been shown to be unsustainable. As the British mainland evolves into some sort of federal arrangement, the Dublin government is beginning to envisage something similar for the 32 counties. Micheál Martin said last week that Stormont could continue sitting in a united Ireland
The worst possible outcome of the leadership election is a return to hardline, ‘ourselves alone’ unionism which sowed the seeds for the rebellion of the Catholic people. What unionism needs now is a leader who can see that the best possible outcome is to work the protocol, deal with nationalists and Dublin as equals, befriend the people of Britain and hold on to their British identity in whatever kind of British Isles emerges in the next 20 years.
The winds of change are blowing over these islands. What we don’t know is what the outcome will be but we can be certain that this little bigoted hate filled statelet will not be allowed to stop the tide of change. England is no longer an empire, Ireland no longer a province dependent on Britain. Ireland showed this clearly when they chose to remain in Europe as Britain went off in a huff – Ireland has clearly aligned itself to mainland Europe.
The mark of great leadership is telling people the truth and showing them that only by dealing with the truth can a new future be forged. Unfortunately for NI, the DUP does not appear to have such a person in their ranks.
A call to the battlements at Larne harbour or Belfast port will not aid the unionist cause.
Perhaps highlighting why they want to be British and why they will want to hold onto that right in the new emerging British Isles would be one way to start – if we can be British and Irish why can’t they the Irish and British, with a Stormont to proclaim it?
Portglenone, Co Antrim
Unionism must become persuaders in a post-Brexit Ireland
As a life-long, card-carrying UUP member, the New Ireland blueprint from Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond (April 26) is unworkable pie in the sky.
My own ideology is that of Revolutionary Unionism – initially persuading my fellow unionists to look beyond the politics of ‘no surrender’ and ‘not an inch’ and recognise the reality that unionism as an electoral ideology is now in the minority in Northern Ireland if the past three elections are taken into consideration. Unionism needs an all-island identity. Whether you view the Northern Ireland centenary from a demographic, economic, electoral, or Brexit point of view, Irish nationalism is now politically ‘chomping at the bit’ for a border poll on Irish unity some time in the not too distant future. Essentially, unionism must become persuaders in a post-Brexit Ireland. Unionism must persuade nationalist southern Ireland that its future lies by rejoining the United Kingdom and taking its place among the nations which comprise the British Isles. Southern Ireland is no longer dominated by the Catholic Church. The clerical abuse scandals over the decades have irreparably shattered the influence which the Irish bishops once had on southern politics, especially during the de Valera era.
The centenary of Northern Ireland should be marked with the signing of a new Anglo-Irish Treaty, bringing southern Ireland back into a new union so that southern Ireland can resume its rightful place as an integral member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
While the CPA now represents more than 50 national and regional parliaments throughout the globe, Ireland was a founder member of its predecessor – the Empire Parliamentary Association – in 1911 when the island was all under British rule. Given Brexit and Covid, we can all agree that a new Ireland is inevitable. But it is not Irish unity which is required, but a new Irish union. As the situation currently exists, Fine Gael and unionism can co-exist politically, culturally, historically and especially amicably, on this island. Mr Richmond’s well-written paper makes very interesting reading given that it is based on a new Ireland comprised of constitutional southern Irish nationalism and northern liberal unionism. What it clearly lacks is a workable agenda for dealing with the overt economic Marxism of the Provisional IRA’s political wing Sinn Féin, and hardliners within the dissident loyalist community. Those are the real starting points for any document on a so-called Shared Island.
Dr JOHN COULTER
Lisburn, Co Antrim
DUP merry go round
It is no surprise that rumour swirls about an impending successor to Arlene Foster’s DUP leadership following her party’s decision to put all their political eggs in one basket in the form of Boris Johnson, leader of the laughably named Conservative and Unionist Party, who successfully isolated Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
Arlene Foster never did understand that the unionist part of the title was a misnomer, her party of political sleepwalkers now realise that the Conservatives by their protocol treachery have conned them once again, just as they did in 1921 when unionist leader Edward Carson fumed: “What a fool I was, so was Ulster in the political game that was to get the Conservative party into power.” Still mesmerised less than 10 years later leader James Craig was outraged when Winston Churchill told Eamon de Valera that he would agree to Northern Ireland being merged into the Republic if he would abandon Irish neutrality in the war against Germany, an offer de Valera refused. Almost a century later the DUP led by Arlene Foster, and still fascinated by the Conservative party are contemplating a search for a new leader, something akin to changing the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Having listened to Jeffrey Donaldson (potential candidate for leader of the DUP) on BBC’s Talk Back programme (April 26) stating that he was adamant he had knowledge of technology and other electronic hardware that could be installed on the border – which was put here by the British 100 years ago – that was capable of replacing any structures or physical presence on the ground,
I now suggest Jeffrey puts his money where his mouth is and arranges the acquisition of all of the above equipment. He should first install it at our ports and airports which are all enclosed behind security fencing and obviously as this is invisible no one will know it is operational. Give it a couple of years to prove Jeffrey and others point that it is functional and practical then inform the world powers including US, Canada, India, Israel etc and invite them to witness its invisible unmanned performance.
Do a deal for this Northern Ireland invented border control which would be worth not millions but billions to the treasury and of course no-one could object to it operating like the old (100 years) unenforceable border in Ireland. Everyone a winner – protocol problem solved. Bring it on Jeffrey. Northern Ireland definitely needs something positive right now after all the negativity of late.
Banbridge, Co Down