Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Unionism can start to show it's teeth.

For many in Unionism, the Good Friday Agreement involved significantly more compromise for Unionists than it did for Nationalists, not least because for them, concessions usually meant giving something up they already had and for Nationalists it meant giving up on things they only aspired to have. This feeling has never really gone away and many still feel that it is just one concession after another with nothing coming the other way.

Those on the Nationalist side will argue, with some justification, that it was about achieving a balance where Nationalists had, at the least, a proportional say in running the country and that perceived and real injustices were corrected.

Now though, as things stand, any argument for further concessions boil down almost solely to ideology rather than injustice. The Northern Ireland of today is largely a fair and just state. Discrimination based on faith is not just outlawed, but abhorred by the majority of it's people. We have completely free and fair elections. Our Police force is supported wholeheartedly across the community as is our Justice Department.

For Unionists, this means that they can fight their ideological corner free from the shackles of the past.

Sinn Fein have for years campaigned as a party dedicated to the reunification of Ireland as a republic but their strength always came from their drive to fight injustices for a community that felt it was treated as second class. Now that that is no longer the case Sinn Fein have to put the case for a United Ireland not as a moral issue, as it has been in the past, but as the correct ideology. For Unionists, this is good news. Sinn Fein raised the issue of Unification again in their manifesto and Unionists should not be afraid to take them to task on it.

It will be interesting to see what Sinn Fein do when Unionism finally turns around and says: no more.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting points, especially about the strength of Sinn Féin's campaigns in the past coming from their drive to fight the injustices suffered by the nationalist community when it was treated as second class, which now largely don't exist so won't motivate its campaigns. I'd never really thought about that.

    I live in London so don't manage to follow a great deal of Northern Ireland politics, and had never come across a unionist on the left before (hell: I didn't even know there was such a thing as the PUP until last month!) so I'm interested in your point of view.

    What do you make of the PUP? And what's it like having both major parties who share your unionist views on the opposite side of the political spectrum to you?

    I've always sympathised with the nationalist cause myself; partly because of the oppression on the part of the British historically and partly (amongst other reasons) because I've always been more ideologically in line with Sinn Féin and the SDLP.

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  2. I think it's a shame that the PUP are more or less a spent force as there's no real evidence that any other Unionist parties have the concerns of the working classes at heart. In truth, the party most aligned to the politics of the PUP are Sinn Fein, though obviously there is one major policy difference to overcome!

    I feel, as I have been honest in saying, that there is no natural political home for me in NI, I understand compromises must be made when joining any political party but joining a party here would require too much of a compromise. Saying that, one party in particular is doing their best to change my mind on that issue and things could soon change!

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