Unionism has taken all the big risks for the greater good of Northern Ireland
A letter from Councillor Paul Berry:
Those within unionism who were pro and anti Belfast Agreement in 1998 had their own arguments for and against the deal.
However, the majority of people in Northern Ireland voted in favour of the agreement and unionism took part and formed the Northern Ireland Assembly with other parties from across the political divide.
Unionism took a massive risk and indeed a massive political step to enter government with republicans and nationalism, but they did so with genuinely good intentions for Northern Ireland.
Entering government with Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, was seriously risky and a massive gamble given the fact that many of us within unionism believe that republicans bombed and shot their way to the table and indeed the executive table. However, this has been largely ignored by republicanism, nationalism, the UK government and Brussels.
Over the years we have witnessed the Northern Bank robbery, the Paul Quinn murder, the Castlereagh break-in and many other incidents, yet unionism sought to maintain stability throughout.
Many of us opposed Lord Trimble’s strategy and many of us opposed the Belfast Agreement, yet his sincerity and intentions were good for Northern Ireland even though he was hung out to dry by Tony Blair on more than one occasion.
Unfortunately, nationalists and republicans have constantly used the Belfast Agreement as a stepping stone to their own political dream of a united Ireland whilst totally ignoring the risks unionism took by forming a government with them.
More recently the pan nationalist front has continued to poke unionism in the eye with their demands for an Irish Language Act, calls for a border poll and threatening the peace process over Brexit. This is all clearly de-stabilising the political process yet this does not worry them as they have a strategy of want-want at any cost.
The outcome of the past 20 years for many of us within unionism has been one where unionism took all the risks for the greater good whilst nationalism/ republicanism lacked generosity and goodwill and failed to put aside their narrow agenda to help build a peaceful Northern Ireland with the desire to have the best education and economy systems in the world.
Paul Berry, Councillor, Tandragee
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