Unionism, Democracy and The Dilemma – by Michael Lagan


There comes a point in the future for Unionists from which they can’t escape.  They will have to deal with the impending question of will they (‘they’ being any Unionist party) accept a Nationalist First Minister.  The mere fact it is such a huge issue for Unionism suggests it never expected the day would come when it would have to make the choice of accepting a Nationalist First Minister.  The nightmare scenario being not only a Nationalist First Minister but a Republican First Minister and additionally a Sinn Fein First Minister.  Something I’m betting never crossed the mind of any Unionist in the past.  It also sheds light on what Unionism really thinks of not only Stormont but also their partners in the Northern Irish Executive.

 At a time when prices are rising on everything from everyday goods to fuel to energy, Unionists are concentrating on one thing…the NI Protocol and killing it off.  That may actually be their undoing, as many within Loyalist communities are really starting to feel the bite of the price hikes and with Loyalist areas being some of the most impoverished in the North, one can only imagine what is going through the mind of Liz, sitting there at home with a big coat on and two pairs of trousers simply trying not to use gas or oil so she can heat the house in the morning.  Do the DUP, TUV, UUP et al really think Liz gives a fiddlers that there’s a border in the Irish Sea?  You can bet she does as a Unionist but what she cares about more is being able to feel comfortable in her home, safe and warm, and be able to feed herself on her pension while having a little bit left over to socialise with her friends the odd time.

 The UUP, specifically Doug Beattie, is trying to balance the NI Protocol issue with grassroots issues but clearly doesn’t know how to do that and realistically in the current climate, that’s very hard to do.  I’d say if it were up to him he’d keep the Protocol but demand changes to it in return for UUP acceptance.  The rest try to show a level of humanity, of leadership, then fall flat on their faces by attempting to connect the Protocol to the soaring price of, well, everything.  Only the Protocol isn’t the reason prices are soaring but rather the war between Ukraine and Russia destabilising oil prices which govern the price of pretty much everything in your life.  You can be damned sure political Unionism will attempt to make the Protocol the reason though and no doubt many a Unionist and Loyalist will accept their reasoning.  It’s somewhat disturbing that Unionist politicians can blatantly lie to their electorate and have their lies believed even while economists indicate the North is doing better economically than we were before the Protocol.

 The dilemma for Unionism is this…do they accept a Catholic/Nationalist/Republican First Minister or not?  If the answer is ‘yes’ then fair play to them, they will have risen above their age-old aversion to equality, equality which was hard fought for and won by Catholics and Nationalists over the decades.  However, if they refuse to accept a First Minister of the above persuasion they will have highlighted what many Catholics, Nationalists, and Republicans have known for a lifetime and will have qualified the reason Martin McGuinness stood down as Deputy First Minister and collapsed the Executive.  They will have shown themselves to be ultimately supremacist, bigoted, and utterly undemocratic.  They will have squandered any shred of trust and sympathy Nationalists and Republicans had left for them and there will be no turning back from that this time and they may allow Stormont to fall.

 Will the Democratic Unionist Party have to change its name?  We wait and see.



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