Why admit unionist failings but neglect nationalist ones?

Letter to the editor

Why should unionists, as proposed by Jason Ashford (‘I am proud of my British heritage but unionism should admit past failings’, Letters, March 2), admit to their failings – in the early days as a devolved parliament within the United Kingdom, without referring to the failings of the leaders of “Irish nationalism” in boycotting the institutions of the state, and of goods manufacture within it, in the expectation that they could collapse Northern Ireland?

At what point of time – months, years? – would those of a unionist mind in admitting the failings of unionism be expected to make mention of “Irish nationalist” failings?

Again, with reference to the sectarianism of the time (Paul Bew gives us a glimmer of that in “Ideology and the Irish Question: Ulster Unionism and Irish Nationalism 1912-1916”) at what point in time – next year, or the year after? – would it be permissible to make mention of it?

Not to make mention of it would be like mentioning Craigavon’s “Protestant parliament” without mentioning what it was a response to, namely Eamon de Valera’s “Catholic nation” and the expectations that follow from being such a nation.

What is to be gained by focusing selectively on “Protestant” or “unionist” sectarianism and ignore the “Catholic” or “nationalist”, as Jason Ashford would have us – even if but initially.

That would be to rewrite history even if but for the short term.

Let him, and others, read Paul Bew’s “Ideology and the Irish Question”.

W A Miller, Belfast, BT13

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