It is often said of Irish republicans that they use a long-term strategy.
It is essential that Unionists fight a longer-term battle.
On short-term thinking, last Monday in the Assembly was a classic example. There has been a Unionist Speaker for seven years. No one should have been under any illusion that there would always be a Unionist Speaker.
Even if every Unionist MLA had voted for the only Unionist candidate there still wouldn’t have been a Unionist Speaker as it requires cross community support. The SDLP and SF would not have supported such a move.
In 16 months there will be another election for the Speaker. To take a short sighted view now would undoubtedly have meant there wouldn’t be a Unionist Speaker in the next Assembly term. Would any Unionist view that as a good thing?
If the UUP and Jim Allister think that is a progressive way forward they should say so, I would disagree completely. If we had been short sighted like the UUP and Jim Allister, it would have ensured that there won’t be a Unionist Speaker in the next Assembly.
For seven years a Unionist has been in the post. Yet if we used our votes to block a nationalist taking the role for the last sixteen months of this term, does anyone think a nationalist would back a unionist speaker after next May’s election?
We will never forget the actions of republicans. It is confusing why they get enough votes to get into government but there is no dichotomy in building for a peaceful future while challenging those who caused our violent past.
DUP MP East Londonderry