It does not sound like a big deal: four out of Northern Ireland’s 11 new councils have not adopted the ‘gov.uk’ website ending that is customary for government bodies.
There are, to be sure, more pressing problems facing the Province.
But this is further proof of a process of chip chipping away at the fact of Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom, as enshrined in the 1998 Belfast Agreement.
It could be argued that the fact that republicans are reduced to such pettiness — they can’t even tolerate a domain name ending in the usual government formulation — actually shows how little they have achieved, despite the decades of terror of the Troubles.
But there is, for supporters of the Union, a less benign interpretation of such conduct. At almost every level of public life, nationalists are being allowed to erode any formal indication of Britishness. The sort of indications that, added together, are at the heart of citizenship.
When Westminster’s Transport Minister Claire Perry explained why the Union Flag was being put on driving licences in Great Britain, she said that “people in this country rightly take pride in our national flag which is why I am delighted it will now be displayed on British driving licences”. But a nationalist minister at Stormont was allowed to ensure that no such pride could be displayed on Northern Ireland licences.
The Union flag itself is not acceptable to nationalists and is traded as if it is a matter of parity of esteem. But there isn’t parity over our constitutional position.
Simultaneous with the consistent erosion of Britishness, nationalists not only accept the largesse of British (ie mostly English) taxpayers, they furiously demand it.
In this, they are more British than the British, because they have ensured that Northern Ireland gets more welfare cash than do the people who subsidise us on the mainland.