Political unionism adopting ‘ostrich approach’ to Irish unity, conference hears

Political unionism adopting ‘ostrich approach’ to Irish unity, conference hears


he majority of political unionism has adopted “the ostrich approach” to the opportunity of a united Ireland, a conference in Belfast has heard.

The feedback had been made throughout a panel dialogue organised by the pro-unity group Ireland’s Future, held in Belfast’s Ulster Hall.

Speakers on the panel, all hailing from a Protestant background, said that they gave extra severe consideration to Irish unity after Brexit.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar was additionally praised as being extra open concerning the subject of Irish unity than Taoiseach Micheal Martin – and was requested to call a residents’ meeting on Irish unity as soon as he returns as Irish premier subsequent month.

The viewers applauded at this suggestion.

During the panel dialogue, former Northern Ireland Office press officer Ben Collins told the viewers that when he was rising up, he was decided that he wouldn’t be “bombed into a united Ireland”.

“Whenever we had peace, that allowed me to look at things differently, and I was able to embrace my Irishness.”

Mr Collins said that Brexit had made Irish unity “an urgent necessity” and “reiterated the fact that our views didn’t count, we weren’t taken into account”.

Of unionism, he said: “There’s a difference between political unionism and civic unionism, I think political unionism absolutely they’re adopting the ostrich strategy of the head in the sand, but I think civic unionism is already engaging.”

Denzil McDaniel, of the Impartial Reporter, said that Protestants are open to change.

“Political unionism needs to take account of the fact that there are a lot of Protestants who now consider themselves ready for change,” he said.

Glenn Bradley, a former British Army soldier and former UUP officer, who’s now an “unapologetic peace process-er”, said that “intensive debate” on constitutional change in Northern Ireland is going on.

“The only people I can see who are denying that those conversations are taking place, and the potential of what that can then deliver, is political unionism,” he said.

He told the group that his early days had been stuffed with violence. On a morning in 1972 the IRA detonated a car bomb that injured him on his approach to Sunday school, which led to children calling him “scar face”.

He said that as an adolescent “I wanted to hit back. And in 1984 I enlisted in the British Army and with enough hate in me to kill and destroy the world.”

He said that revelations about historic Protestant rebellions, and studying that his great-grandfather spoke fluent Irish, had been among the many revelations that triggered him to query the established order.

He said: “My great-grandfather… was a UVF man, signed the covenant in 1912 but he spoke fluent Irish.

He added “that type of discovery, that type of myth-busting, that type of raising above propaganda” is what triggered him to query the first-past-the-post system.

“And then the big game-changer for me happened with Brexit,” he said.

Claire Mitchell, a former lecturer at Queen’s University, argued that “deeper values” than constitutional positions want to be provided to individuals in Northern Ireland, significantly in relation to the local weather change disaster.

“All I want is to live in a meaningful, stable democracy that is coping OK – well, even – with the ecological change, that is adapting to food and energy scarcity, that is making climate refugees feel welcome.

“I have to be honest, I don’t know if Irish unity can deliver that, but I see absolutely no sign that the UK is trying to deliver that either.”

Senator Frances Black, who’s the chairwoman of the group and who hosted the occasion on Wednesday, described it as “a civil society organisation” that’s working to put together for constitutional change.

“It is an accepted fact that for several reasons, including Brexit, constitutional change is afoot,” she said.

In the same occasion held in Dublin last month, actor Jimmy Nesbitt said the controversy about Northern Ireland’s constitutional future ought to be led by individuals slightly than politicians.

In Mr Varadkar’s deal with to the pro-unity occasion, he urged that Northern Ireland may retain some buildings in a single attainable situation for a united Ireland, which prompted booing from some members of the viewers.


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