A single issue unionism has been our own worst enemy

Simon Hamilton's conciliatory demeanour is a quality that has been sadly lacking from the face of unionism

Simon Hamilton, in advocating devolution over direct rule (‘We seek deal — but NI will not be held to ransom.’ February 24), stated that “It is in the long-term interests of unionists to have control over our own destiny”.

I’m not so sure.

They had control over their own destiny when the unionist electorate returned the DUP to Stormont as the biggest party in 2016 yet what good did it do?

They so mismanaged the RHI fallout it gave Sinn Fein the excuse to collapse the assembly and handed republicans the initiative with all their red line demands.

There is nothing new here. In the 1960s when again controlling their own destiny, unionist politicians failed collectively to read trends, prepare the grassroots and introduce reforms, resulting in Stormont’s downfall in 1972. Likewise with Sunningdale when trying to restore devolution.

Negotiating the 1998 Belfast Agreement (although imperfect) was a positive but the last 10 years has seen the DUP and Sinn Fein polarise communities even more.

Apparently unionist parties can also be bypassed by government: Sinn Fein side deals involving legacy funding and ‘on the run’ letters; the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement signed over their heads.

Can I be forgiven for thinking that a dedicated single issue (the border) unionism has been our own worst enemy?

In Scotland the unionist cause is fought with UK wide parties Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives whilst still carrying on normal day to day politics.

Whilst I don’t have the same faith in unionism that Simon Hamilton has, his conciliatory demeanour is a quality that has been sadly lacking from the face of unionism for years.

Thomas Stewart, Belfast BT4

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