Unionists have always lacked political strategies, unlike Irish republicans

A letter from George McNally:

By Letters
Thursday, 28th October 2021, 3:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th October 2021, 3:10 pm
The latent function of the centenary service, in St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh on October 21, was to convey that Northern Ireland had no right to exist
The latent function of the centenary service, in St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh on October 21, was to convey that Northern Ireland had no right to exist

Owen Polley’s piece (‘Unionists must match relentless nationalism,’ October 25, see link below) is thoughtful, insightful and perceptive.

Irish nationalists and republicans scent victory in their defeat of unionism and the next Stormont election will be crucial.

Unionism always lacked strategic political language and its pragmatic application unlike Irish republicanism.

Unionism has to deal with political enemies at Westminster and forked-tongued non-ego commentators in Dublin, Brussels and Washington.

The latent function of the recent Armagh Centenary service was to convey that Northern Ireland had no right to exist.

In contrast consider the political strategies of Gerry Adams.

I lived in Central and Southern Africa in the 1960s after the defeat of Ian Smith’s Rhodesian Front and the creation of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

Gerry Adams was quick to identify with Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (in 2001 a memorial plaque in Irish was placed in the prison compound of Robben Island dedicated to “the shared suffering of Irish and South African political prisoners”).

After the end of white rule in 1994 Adams appealed to his republican base and many others: “Where is the unionist de Klerk?”

Closer to home he was able to say that the “Orange Bs would be beaten with equality” (meaning social equality).

Owen Polley is correct when he says that “unionists sometimes struggle to find a vocabulary that fits their aspirations and motivations”.

The challenge is to incentivise non-voting unionists back to the ballot box.

George McNally, Londonderry

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