Since the beginning of partition Northern Ireland has always been in a unique political situation. The history of Northern Ireland is decisive to understanding were we are today and it is important to understand that there is always a reasoned story it seems for each side. When I look back into the past I see Sir James Craig who seemingly promoted discrimination of Catholics, violence that saw over 2000 Catholics leave their homes in 1935 and more recently the shameful revelations of Bloody Sunday, this leads me to ask, have the unionist people brought the position we are in today upon ourselves? We are now facing the strong possibility of having Martin McGuiness, a man who openly admits to being a terrorist, as our first minister, possibly the face of Northern Ireland to rest of the world.
I am certainly not suggesting that the violence and terror caused by the IRA over the troubles was in anyway justified however if Unionists reached out instead of persecuting Catholics at the start maybe 90 years later we may not have had to endure all this bloodshed. More recently Tom Elliot turned down the invitation to a GAA match, yes he has no interest in the sport however for the sake of good relations and good publicity showing Unionists reaching out I believe he should have accepted the invitation to attend the game. More so Trevor Ringland is going to resign because this new leadership has only entrenched the idea that the UUP is sectarian and stuck in the past. I hope Tom Elliot handles such invitations more diplomatically in the future for the sake of his party in the public eye.
As long as we have Unionists seemingly bitter towards our Nationalist community, Unionism is in the eyes of the media become the bad people. Indeed Unionists need to learn to communicate much more effectively with the people of Northern Ireland. Years of complacency may be about to haunt the Protestant people of Northern Ireland in these coming elections. I believe that a large part of the reason that Protestants do not seem to vote is that they have an attitude of complacency to assume that Unionists have the automatic right to rule. Well folks, I am sorry to tell you that after the current DUP sold the Unionist people out at St Andrews by agreeing to a Sinn Fein First Minister it is now more vital than ever for people to get out and vote to preserve the union. A union that Sinn Fein and the DUP are determined to destroy with the signing of the St Andrews Agreement. The IRA except for a few extremists have learned quickly that government is the way to achieve its aims. The difference today is that they are wearing suits and ties running our country than balaclavas and guns terrorising the streets. And look at their progress, look! Compare thirty years of violence causing destruction everywhere compared to 5 years in government with the DUP, it believe that the Republican cause has only been strengthened by concessions made by the DUP. One thing you have to give the UUP and the SDLP is that they did their battling democratically. The people of Northern Ireland voted for the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the St Andrews Agreement has been forced upon us by two parties out for their own aims.
Carson one of the greatest leaders of Northern Ireland warned his Ulster Unionist colleagues not to alienate northern Catholics, as he predicted the troubles Northern Ireland would suffer ahead as a result. In 1921 Carson said, “We used to say that we could not trust an Irish parliament in Dublin to do justice to the Protestant minority. Let us take care that that reproach can no longer be made against your parliament, and from the outset let them see that the Catholic minority have nothing to fear from a Protestant majority." Unionism needs to go on the offensive for once.
So Unionism needs a facelift. Yes, the IRA slaughtered protestant people for 30 years. Maybe this is naive, but how are we ever supposed to move forward as a country if we keep looking back and not learning from those mistakes. We need to ensure that unionism is not a “cold house for Nationalists”. Unionism no matter how hard it may be needs to start reaching out. Unionism needs to get a good publicity team together to promote the great things we do. Unionism needs to get off its backside. We need to lose this complacency that assumes the automatic right to rule in Stormont. By learning from mistakes of the past we need to move Unionism forward by showing Republicans that we are alive and definitely kicking.