Unionism being put on back foot – By David McNarry

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It is a gross understatement to say that unionists are captivated by the current state of the Union. Where is the evidence demonstrating enraptured citizen support across all communities?

Imagine Trump attempting to put a positive slant on our state of the Union compared to his Impeachment acquittal, Nancy Pelosi tearing her hair as well as his speech, rising approval ratings, re-election in the bag and all on the back of a 1.9 billion dollar debt. Makes it difficult to define populism.

I asked Nigel Farage –  did he think that a Canada style trade deal would keep the Boris border in the Irish Sea. His text reply ( 6-2-20 ) read “tough to say, I think that probably is the answer I am afraid.” Makes the truth a great equaliser.

So, First Minister, notwithstanding the RHI enquiry, the Connor Murphy not fit for office calls plus the impending Northern Ireland alignment with the E.U. customs union and an increasingly disconsolate unionist family far from buying into the New Approach, New Decade deal, how would your State of the Union address read?

Spinning in many unionist minds is an agitated ‘what the hell’ audit. Not an ‘oh! Let sleeping dogs lie and move on reaction. More seriously it is a profound ‘what the hell is going on’- what the hell is being done about it battle? It represents a great tussle and potential turning point for those unionists confronting old republican demons and new red liberal nightmares. It is a mood that neither the DUP or the UUP can afford to ignore especially when both are undoubtedly alert to strong feelings. The missing link is their inability to connect the party line with the rumblings of discontent.

Few are overly concerned about the Union being safe—it is safe. Anxieties are only compounded around who has the safest pair of hands?

In many unionist minds a nationalist takeover coupled to a concerted Irish drive for joint authority is constantly under review. To most,  reciprocity is a fair and meaningful way to put trust into agreements but it is not evident in the Assembly far less in the Ministerial carve up in the Executive. That there is an artificial façade falsely dressing up Stormont which sits without any honest commitment from Sinn Fein to unionists on any aspect of the Union is incontrovertibly a major impediment to establishing a dedicated working relationship. It id hard to find a unionist who thinks that sharing power is in their best interests.

Unionism deserves to give itself a prolonged  time out to discuss all the ramifications of all the ‘What the Hell ‘ issues. Importantly the republican-nationalist fraternity should earnestly consider taking their own time out.

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  1. It is just possible that Sinn Fein’s success is the best thing that has happened to Unionism in a long time.

    The last years and months of Brexit, the so-called sea border, the forced return to Stormont, and the potential risk to the all-island economy seemed to suggest a soft-unionist support for or at least toleration of a United Ireland, as if it were some kind of fait accompli–and perhaps a United Ireland led by the old status quo of FF or FG in an EU would have been acceptable.

    But a United Ireland led by SF? – I rather think that has or will cause something of a rethink.

    The Union is safer than it has been in a while.

    • It is Unionism’s own fault for not taking seriously the rise in support for Irish Unity. We never voted for Brexit and voted by a majority to remain alligined with the EU. The DUP did not listen and payed a very heavy price by alligining itself with the Tory government it’s a price they are going to find very hard to live with. Today’s crisis in the North of Ireland are the DUP’s making and never let unionism ever forget it. A United Ireland is closer that it has ever been in 100 years

      • Kevin, I don’t disagree that unionism has problems, or that the DUP are to blame for many of them; my point was rather different.

        There is no doubt that the cause of a United Ireland has been strengthening over these last years, and for some of the reasons you mention, and, as a unionist, I had almost concluded that a United Ireland was inevitable. The ‘the Union is safe’ mantra was never a particularly bright idea.

        However, the realisation of a UI was dependent on what we might call ‘soft-unionist’ votes, or ‘Alliance’ voters, or ‘Remain’ unionists switching a previously held allegiance from the Union to a United Ireland. This possibility was (and remains) plausible if any United Ireland was couched in terms of a stable-European-diverse-pluralist state, but there’s a lot less stability in the Republic now. The SF vote indicates a rise in populism, it threatens the Irish establishment and it has pushed the Republic in the direction of the hard left al la Corbyn in Britain. Not to mention the comments about the IRA being made in the Irish media and political classes.

        Now, I could be wrong, but I’d have thought a rethink by those soft-unionists is a distinct possibility. And perhaps the greatest irony is that the rise of SF in the Republic is now more of a problem for the South than it is for unionists in the North.

        If SF really want a United Ireland then they might consider trying to unite a few hearts, and leaving the old rhetoric, along with songs about the Black and Tans, behind – because they wont win any wavering unionists with that in tow.

  2. Maybe winning unionists hearts won’t be required.

    You can thank FG for the rising popularity of rebel songs and their stupid commemoration for the RIC, which the Tans were a part of.

    The vote for SF is not a populist vote. Another 5 years of FG/ FF was just too much for a quarter of the population. A rubicon has been crossed in this election. FF/FG have had a hundred years to create a republic and failed. They will not be given another 100.

    It really is that simple.

    • “Maybe winning unionists hearts won’t be required.”

      There are two problems with that, one practical, the other moral.

      First of all the way any Border Poll is set up it will require 50% + 1 in the North – and that means unionists changing their minds and maybe some soft nationalists too.

      Secondly, if hearts are not won, then while Ireland might lose a geographical border, it won’t be united – surely a United Ireland must mean united people? Unless people have something else in mind.

      But yes, “a rubicon has been crossed” – although it might not be as much to the advantage of Sinn Fein’s unity project as they think.

      A diverse, pro-European, secular, globalist, waning-nationalism kind of United Ireland just might have been a possibility – but it doesn’t look like we’re heading in that direction.

      • 50% plus one it all it’s going to take though. NI has had a 100 years to unite it’s people and failed miserably. You have to ask yourself why Protestants unionists have this need to keep Catholics and the Irish down and why it’s still so pervasive today. And why the need to distinguish yourself as ‘other’ and ‘separate’?

        The UK survived since 1803 in various forms when it was anything but united, so I’m sure an UI will survive and thrive with or without unionist participation.

        Globalism is the cause of FFG’s downward spiral and good riddance to all three. Ireland is diverse and pro European, far moreso than NI.

        But there you go again, by diverse you really mean less Irish people in Ireland.

        Personally, I don’t care one way or another about NI but let’s have a border poll and if an UI is rejected all people from NI should lose their automatic right to Irish citizenship and passports.

        Time to move on with a good luck and nice knowing you and goodbye.

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