The threat to unionism is the association of religion with identity

If Northern Ireland is to secure a future in the UK, unionism must cease to be synonymous with religion
If Northern Ireland is to secure a future in the UK, unionism must cease to be synonymous with religion

I have followed with interest several opinion pieces and stories regarding unionism, the number of Catholics versus Protestants in Northern Ireland and new calls for Irish reunification.

I am originally a southerner from a Catholic background and predictably, would like to see a united Ireland by consent.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

That position made clear, I agree with Alex Kane (‘Four years from NI’s centenary, there is no sign of unionism upping its game,’ November 13) regarding Walter Ellis’s remarks on unionists finding their place in such a state.

There would be no place for unionism as a political aspiration by definition.

Ellis’s piece only makes sense if one replaces “unionist” with “Protestant”.

Undoubtedly Ulster Protestants could find a place and enrich a united Ireland with a too-long absent culture and historical viewpoint.

Protestant history and Protestant culture is absent almost (but not quite) completely from the story of the Republic.

Perhaps – hopefully, or it would be an injustice to all people in Ireland – the very notion of what makes Irish history and Irish people could be reformed to something truly shared.

However, that is speculative and dependent on the wishes of the people.

Continued union is clearly now the majority aspiration in Northern Ireland, but it is not secure.

The threat I see to either unionism’s future or my imagined Ireland is the association of religion with political and national identity.

Northern Ireland will cease to be a majority Protestant state.

If Northern Ireland is to secure a future in the UK, unionism must cease to be synonymous with religion.

Unionists must transform the perceived culture of unionism as surely now to prevent a united Ireland as Ellis implies Protestants would transform theirs if a united Ireland happened.

Derrick O’Leary, Johannesburg, South Africa