Trevor Ringland: The continued existence of paramilitary organised crime blights unionism

The murder of Ian Ogle highlights some of the critical issues facing Northern Ireland and unionism in particular, says Trevor Ringland
The murder of Ian Ogle highlights some of the critical issues facing Northern Ireland and unionism in particular, says Trevor Ringland

The brutal murder of Ian Ogle highlights again some of the critical issues facing Northern Ireland and unionism in particular.

We can understand, in the context of our troubled past, how young people were sucked into the dark world of paramilitarism.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

Now, there is no excuse and our future must never be shaped by a threat from paramilitaries.

They will need to leave the stage, with the law dealing with those who are involved in organised crime.

Their continued existence blights unionism, undermines the Union and plagues the communities in which they operate.

More broadly, unionists have a decision to make, which cannot be put off.

What sort of future are we seeking to promote strategically through unionism?

Is it one based on division, hatred, fear, victimhood, demographics, alienation and any other negative influence you wish to include, or will we promote a genuinely shared Northern Ireland for all, great relations across this Island, across these islands and beyond?

This decision should take into account the fact that the constitutional future is to be determined by the principle of consent, making it a battle for hearts and minds.

Politically, we need to promote the best interests of all the people of Northern Ireland.

We can draw inspiration from successful civic initiatives, like the Northern Ireland Football for All campaign, to roll out policies that deal with real issues that impact on people’s lives.

In this way, it is possible to unite people in Northern Ireland.

Others can promote their constitutional preferences by the methods they choose, but unionism needs to set its own path, while working with those who are prepared to work constructively with us for the betterment of all and challenging those who promote the flawed ideologies of the past as their strategy.

In this way, unionism can provide genuine leadership for communities that still struggle with problems like paramilitarism.

Trevor Ringland, Holywood