Your deputy editor, Ben Lowry, recently wrote about how unionists ‘keep being coaxed by nationalists into a ‘New Ireland’ debate’ (‘Unionists are too polite to say get lost in New Ireland debate,’ August 31).
You see it a lot.
Soft unionists, the likes of Jim Dornan (father of Jamie), express something that deviates from their unionist background and status quo, and next thing they’re at a republican panel in west Belfast or at a seminar at the Waterfront Hall discussing the pros and cons of a ‘new Ireland’.
This too happened to me after I strongly criticised loyalists.
I was going warmly embraced by republicans and welcomed into the fold, but was promptly kicked out when they realised I held the same contempt for republican thugs as I did for the loyalist ones.
I found that very interesting.
But to truly understand what republicans would have in store for very liberal unionists and their worldview, all you have to do is look to how republicans treat soft nationalists.
Look at Seamus Mallon and his recent suggestion that 50% plus one would not work for Irish unity.
The excoriating rage and loathing that this moderate and sensible suggestion triggered is very, very telling.
Look at how Malachi O’Doherty – born into a Catholic family in west Belfast, but who has come to his own view of the world – is treated by the rigid republicans.
‘He’s a West Brit’ and a ‘shoneen’ etc, they will always say – and he’s not even a liberal unionist.
Dialogue and exchange and panels are infinitely better than sheltered division or (God forbid) violence.
But the sort of dialogue that goes one way and is utterly contemptuous of deviation from the republican scriptures is equally as dangerous.
Ever since I got dropped by my republican friends for being deficient in my critique of the state and insufficient in my reverence for IRA volunteers etc, etc,I often ask myself, when does a Lundy end and a West Brit begin?
Brian John Spencer, Belfast