Long term thinking necessary for unionism

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HAVING been brought up amongst the Presbyterian community of Mid Ulster, I was no stranger to the adage of “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”.

Now, by no means do I consider Basil McCrea or John McCallister to be angels, but I would certainly have regarded them to be fools to stand in the Mid Ulster by-election before their party was even formally created, christened or structured.

To run for an election without a formal mandate is to actively support the tribal voting mentality that exists in most of Northern Ireland, where one can run on the ticket of ‘not being of the other sort’.

Mr Warrington of Fivemiletown asks in his letter (March 16) “how many other constituencies will be similarly written off” by McCrea’s party on account of my proposal that Mid Ulster is a polarised region.

This question is only fair if one interprets my point as a long term and permanent position, so for the record I do not support such a stance as a long term position as this will naturally only lead to further fragmenting of the unionist and indeed ‘moderate’ vote.

My endorsement of this position in the Mid Ulster by-election is purely to do with the fact that the party was still in its embryonic stage at that point, not to mention the fact that the inevitable mauling that they would receive would be a cause for gloating by many unionists who see nothing wrong with the traditional ‘British nationalism’ based unionism.

I welcome long term thinking as a refreshing and necessary change within unionism.

A moderate, in my opinion, is someone who can adopt a stance on the Union (be it pro or anti) and do so without any paramilitary pandering, antagonistic or provocative stances or nationalistic trappings such as the use and abuse of national flags or cultural vehicles such as band parades or the Gaelic languages.

The basis for my alleged ignorance of ‘John and Basil’ does not make any sense whatsoever in that I was fully aware of their reluctance to back the unionist candidate in Mid Ulster.

Having been born and bred in what is now Mid Ulster I stick by my original statement of “is it really necessary to tell the unionist voters there to ‘vote for a unionist’?”.

I will concede that Mr Warrington may have a point when he says “with unionists like these, who needs nationalists?”, although, as it may be more accurate to refer to me as a ‘Northern Ireland nationalist’ (and pro-Union by default) the thought occurs that should a pro-Northern Irish stance become more palatable to the Catholic youth in the forthcoming years as opposed to the current Irish-centric and British-centric nationalist parties then a more relevant question some day could be (with regards to maintaining the Union) “with ‘nationalists’ like these, who needs unionists?”

Neale Weir

Melbourne (formerly Castledawson)