Unionism is hardly bursting with talent and cannot afford to bury that which it has

Jeff Dudgeon in the Belfast office of the News Letter, next to City Hall, where he serves as an Ulster Unionist councillor. 'Picture by Arthur Allison.
Jeff Dudgeon in the Belfast office of the News Letter, next to City Hall, where he serves as an Ulster Unionist councillor. 'Picture by Arthur Allison.

Jeff Dudgeon’s sweeping and elegantly written assessment (on page 8) of where things stand on the legacy of the past is one of a number of devastating essays in our series.

The series, examining how the process has turned on state forces who prevented civil war, has run for two months.

All essays are together in a section on our website: Click here for the section

I read Mr Dudgeon’s essay and wondered: why is this man only a councillor? High level politics in NI is hardly bursting with talent.

Jeff took a legal case to Strasbourg that led to homosexuality being decriminalised in 1982. Yet latterly he opposed the Christian bakers Ashers being compelled to bake ‘gay cake’.

He can speak with authority on the difference between core human rights and some of the ‘human-rights-for-murderers’ thinking that is quietly influential today.

While I think unionist unity would be a disaster if it meant people just gathering behind a Lambeg drum, the fact that Jeff’s thinking on legacy was essentially lost in the 2014 talks shows the problem in not working together in key matters such as combatting rapidly growing pro terrorist narratives on the past.

• Ben Lowry @BenLowry2 is News Letter deputy editor

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