Jim Wilson: Some big house unionists do not want a loyalist about the place

Jim Wilson, left, helps to unveil a new flag for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme by the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) with Jackie McDonald and Winston Irvine and David Campbell. 
Picture By: Pacemaker Press. May 2016

Jim Wilson, left, helps to unveil a new flag for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme by the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) with Jackie McDonald and Winston Irvine and David Campbell. Picture By: Pacemaker Press. May 2016

On the back of what everyone has called a disastrous election for unionism I personally see some advantages that may come to the unionist family.

Myself and others over the last 20 plus years have been working toward some form of unionist unity or cooperation for the betterment of all people within the unionist family and beyond.

A meeting of the unionist forum in 2013, with unionists and loyalists including Jim Wilson, on the right

A meeting of the unionist forum in 2013, with unionists and loyalists including Jim Wilson, on the right

The first moves towards this came when the unionist forum was formed when all shades of unionism, loyalism and the loyal orders came together to formulate this grouping.

Peter Robinson stated at the time it was the greatest coming together of unionism in 50 years.

I believe the unionist forum fell because people within big house unionism did not want a loyalist about the place.

Individuals within some of those parties were denying the right of the loyalist community to play their part.

If unionism is to be great again then some of its leaders need to realise that the working class, middle and upper class all need proper representation and good workers.

This can be done by giving everyone a place at the table.

The number of political parties we have representing unionism at this time is unsustainable for the future and talks with all political parties, not just the big two needs to happen.

In the run up to the parliamentary elections in 2015 a delegation of loyalists met with Peter Robinson and Mike Nesbitt to argue the case of unionist co-operation within the election.

We argued co-operation on four key areas, Fermanagh/South Tyrone, Upper Bann, South Belfast and East Belfast.

They finally agreed between themselves to co-operate in East Belfast and Fermanagh/South Tyrone with the outcome being a success for unionism.

This begs the question what if?

After the flag protests of 2011 the parliamentary results in those areas where unionism regained seats was a massive confidence booster for the entire unionist/loyalist family.

Difficult as it may be to create one single party or even unionist co-operation, for the people out on the streets and in the villages of this country the importance of a united unionist front or complete united unionism is something that even the most selfish unionist cannot deny.

All the difficulties around this in some ways can be overcome.

It takes brave people to lead and even braver people to change, this is what I think we need to lift the unionist family and to show the people of Ulster we can deliver together.

WHAT IF?

Jim Wilson, East Belfast