The Union is not under threat! Yet unionist confidence is low to the point of being angry. People are fed up with the grinding assault of in your face’ bravado by Sinn Fein. Unsurprisingly they are anxious about where this shocking incompetent and unworkable coalition Executive is taking them. Anyone can see that unless resolved the incompatibility between Unionists and Sinn Fein will end in chaos. All accept that the political pandemonium cannot continue with devolution being the casualty. As we lurch from one confrontational issue to another only republicans are enjoying every minute of unionist discomfort which they cause. No wonder unionists need to reset their direction of travel. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson appears to understand the urgency of choosing the right pathway in promising soon a game plan for the future. Top priority of any plan and strategy has to be that at the next Assembly election unionists designate as ‘united unionist coalition candidates’. Splitting the vote among three or four parties and putting Sinn Fein into pole position is no longer an option.
Convincing Doug Beattie and Jim Allistar is key and if they are not persuaded to buy into a single designation, then they must explain to unionists their reasons why!
Not only has Sir Jeffrey to restore unionist confidence he has bridges to build and many to cross. To succeed across unionism in having his proposals endorsed, he must also reach out and communicate with small ‘u’ unionists to assure them that they are included in developing a New Northern Ireland.
The DUP leader must take the unionist leadership by the scruff of the neck and let friend and foe alike be in no doubt that enough is enough. Compromise and concessions wrung out of unionists are over—they end now!
There hasn’t been an exclusive Northern Irish project since the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. Somehow we have contrived over the past 20 years to turn its virtues into another them and us contest. We need and owe it to ourselves to bring into focus a project which is all about ‘us’. But beware of the ground rules! Unionists see the ‘us’ as all embracing. Republicans see the ‘us’ as only united Irish men and women. The task for Sir. Jeffrey is to convince his party doubters, moderate and hard line unionists, constitutional nationalists and the predisposed fence sitters that they need to come together and belong to the ‘us’. The ask of all is to give their allegiance to a New Northern Irish Dimension. It can only be then that the resurgence of a Northern Irish majority breaks the back of division.
The toughest decision for ‘us’ and I include myself is to admit that it was wishful thinking to believe that any unionist party and Sinn Fein could govern as an equitable partnership unit. The reality being that unionists are at odds with their cause when forced to accommodate aspirations aimed at destroying their ideals. A pledged partnership of ‘us’ people and parties takes politics to the point of realisation. It is from that point of reaching new boundaries that the Northern Irish establish themselves and choose to begin richer and determined to create a New Northern Ireland.