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.