Stifling the right to choice within unionism is not the best way forward

A letter from Alan Love

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 6:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st July 2021, 6:37 pm
Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

David McNarry (Unionism must unite or hand FM post to Sinn Fein June 28) urges unionist parties to “unite within a coalition or hand the keys of the First Minister’s office to Sinn Fein”.

Probably a good strategy if he wants to avoid seeing Michelle O’Neill (if she, indeed, is Sinn Fein’s nomination next May) dropping the word “ Deputy” from her designation but useless for anything else.

Mr McNarry calls for the three main Northern Ireland unionist parties to structure a “slick professional electoral machine.” Hmmmm.

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When will those within the Westminster and Stormont bubbles get it into their heads that it matters not a jot who in OFMDFM is designated as deputy and who gets to wear the big badge of office?

It has not escaped the notice of the electorate that, although one of those unionist parties, the DUP, held the post of First Minister from 2007 until 2017, it was Sinn Fein who were then able to quite legally bring the whole assembly crashing down and to prevent it from sitting for three years.

It was Sinn Fein who again threatened to bring the house down just a fortnight ago. None of the unionist parties could do anything other than give way to their demands. The DUP were plunged into its second leadership crisis in a month as a result.

The history of unionism over the past century has been one of late reaction to the Irish territorial claims on this part of the United Kingdom and to secessionist nationalism within Northern Ireland. Time and time again political unionism has failed to recognise that it must assertively seek the vote from all sections of the community.

It has also consistently failed to tackle the problems arising from Irish partition of the natural unity of the British Isles.

It is sad to see unionist politicians squabbling over who has the biggest desk in an unworkable devolved government. It’s high time unionists in Northern Ireland recognised that they must seek electoral mandates from all sections of the community and confront Irish republicanism head on. Stifling the right of political difference within a democracy is no way to go about this.

Alan Love, Lisburn

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