It is the right time to take the unionist case to Dublin

Morning View
Morning View

Despite the thuggery of dissident republicans in a number of locations in Northern Ireland last week, the Easter Rising centenary has passed off easily.

Many unionists who utterly reject the romanticising of the violence of 1916 have nonetheless been relieved that the Irish state handled the occasion sensitively and in a way that made it difficult for Sinn Fein to score a propaganda coup.

This has been a tricky period for unionists to navigate and the Ulster Unionist Party has so far struck an appropriate balance in its response to the centenary.

The UUP, like the DUP, was right to stay away from the official commemoration of the Rising in Dublin given the illegitimacy of the violence then and, more pertinent to today, the catastrophic resulting legacy.

The Adrian Ismay murder was a tragic reminder of the deadly damage that continues to be wrought by republican purism.

But the UUP has also seemed determined to show that it is being thoughtful in this emotive year of 2016, as is evident in its decision to organise yesterday’s seminar in the Republic’s capital city.

The Republic and the UK are not only at peace, they currently enjoy good relations.

There is no reason at all now why unionists should not regularly be travelling south to meet and to woo people and to make their case on RTE or at events such as the one yesterday at the Royal Irish Academy.

There was good reason not to make such diplomatic forays when the Anglo Irish Agreement was still dominant and when the territorial claim still applied.

They are in the past and while the number of unionists in the Republic is small, the number of people who are willing to give civilised unionism a hearing is much larger.