Alex Kane’s assertion (‘Unionists have no idea what a united Ireland would even look like,’ April 9) that every republican never felt Northern Ireland to be their country is to be contradicted.
They did feel where they lived and moved and had their being (whatever it was called) was their country. But they did feel their country was incorporated into a state which they saw as alien, yet oddly not alien in that they would freely go to other countries in that state and there live and participate in its political life, even to being elected to parliament.
Leo Varadkar tried to explain something of this – far better than any of the unionists – to the European Parliament some weeks ago, as a guest of the parliament, and in doing so the threat Brexit (the rise of English nationalism?) poses for it.
It is something of a joke, of course, to hear so many in Ireland (by which I mean what some call the whole island of Ireland) reproach the English on this.
But today the joke is a leaderless unionism has become saddled with the blinkered mindset of a religious sect. It was a mindset that could ally with unionism given the mindsets in Ireland of pre- Second Vatican Council times. Those times have now gone and the once ally has virtually swallowed up unionism as though unionism is about that and nothing else. It is not the mindset of the unionism that gave us the 1947 Education Act.
Let Alex Kane, Arlene Foster, and others, read the last two pages of the late Charles Brett’s autobiography: “Long shadows cast Before”.
What Brett writes is what unionism, as distinct from today’s “unionism”, democratic or otherwise, ought to be about, these islands. It is what Terence O’Neill, a former Northern Ireland prime minister, was about but he was bellowed out in the name of a “Protestant” unionism that name changed itself to “Democratic” without a mindchange — and so to what is called “unionism” today, now virtually clueless.
W A Miller, Belfast BT13