Sometimes I wonder if or when the Unionist people and their leaders will be persuaded of the benefits for them of belonging to a reunified Ireland. When you see their antics around the Twelfth every year you begin to wonder are these people capable of changing. When you look at the contents of their daily propaganda paper The Newsletter you wonder if there will ever be an open discussion about the pros and cons of unitingIreland and transferring sovereignty from London to Dublin? When I read about the campaign by unionists in Fermanagh-Omagh council area to get rid of the newly elected Chairperson after he was set up by the local unionist paper, The Impartial Reporter, I wonder if they are capable of changing. I wonder if they are serious about building a future together with their neighbours as outlined in various legally binding Agreements.
When you examine the present political and economic situation –especially since Brexit, the truth is that Unionists have everything to gain and nothing to lose from the reunification of this country. Many have already discovered the advantages-social and economic -in having free trade and free travel within Ireland and indeed, within the EU. Within a reunified country they would maintain their status as EU citizens with all the advantages of that. Within a reunified Ireland their culture could be accommodated though I doubt if they would be allowed to continue building bonfires that burn effigies of republican politicians and burning Catholic symbols. I think they need to re-consider how they celebrate the Twelfth each year so that it is no longer orchestrated by the hard men of loyalism.
In a reunified Ireland, unionists will realise, perhaps for the first time, that their best friends are not those who live across the Irish sea but those who live close to them in this country – Nationalists, Republicans, Catholics, nones etc. –those who work with them and want to build a thriving economy, a first rate health service, a progressive education system and a more open and tolerant society for all.
For the first time, many would discover the power they have to make laws and make their own policies with regard to health, education and the economy. I believe that when Brexit takes affect and the harmful effects are felt by both the farming industry and the manufacturing industry many unionists who previously supported it, will have second thoughts about their support for such a break with such a large market. As a consequence, they will be more open to the idea of a new political arrangement on this island and a new relationship with the London government and the EU that would make their future and their children’s future more secure economically and in every other way.
The unionist community would discover how empowering it is to have real power to bring about real change and how liberating that is. Those who believe this is not only possible but inevitable must now work to make the dream come true.