The past couple of days have been very traumatic for Northern Irish Unionism (isn’t every day?). Unionism is in free-fall. A dangerous position to be in for such a pandered-to section of society. Ian Óg of the DUP calling for the House of Lords to be dismantled because it opposes the much-criticised Protocol Bill and Edwin Poots of the same party claiming if Biden visits Ireland he will be attending the funeral of the GFA. Then there are clear signs of positive negotiations between the EU and UK while Ulster Unionism says ‘GFA or Protocol. You can’t have both’. The problem being the GFA was passed by a democratic citizens vote and won by 71%. Poots, Bryson, and the rest can continue howling at the moon but the GFA is going nowhere, not without everyone’s consent.
What Unionism fails to consider, something which Nationalists and indeed more outward-looking Unionists have mentioned in the past, is if the GFA goes, so does Stormont and if Stormont goes we’re back to direct rule or possible shared rule by Dublin and London. If we get either of these choices, contrary to what political Unionsm may think, there is a huge chance that there will be so much pressure on both governments for a border poll, not only from the North but also from America, that it will actually be called and I’m going to put my money where my mouth is here and say Unionism will not win. A single Ireland’s Future event has accelerated the discussion of a border poll and a united Ireland exponentially in the past few days that there is no way to stop it. If it wasn’t already, unity and the conversations surrounding it are a runaway train…and there’s only one station left.
Already, with the next Ireland’s Future event penned in for the 23rd November at 7:00pm in the Ulster Hall, Belfast the momentum has continued to grow and with that momentum has come outcry from Unionism as expected. And that outcry has exposed the fact that Unionists simply do not want people to talk about any kind of united Ireland EVER. The backlash was almost akin to the sentiment of ‘how dare they’ and in the Ulster Hall of all places. Loyalist mouthpieces such as Captain Bin lid are quoting – “Such a contentious united Ireland rally in the Ulster Hall could well attract protest activity by those opposed to the divisive political agenda being promoted by this group”. Divisive political agenda? These are quite literally discussions about what a united Ireland would look like, about how the health service would work, how pensions would be delivered, and other very important issues that need to be ironed out. If an Ireland’s Future event is “divisive” I’d love to hear what these people think the anti-Protocol rallies were, considering the majority of people in the North support the Protocol.
What we’re seeing from the DUP and indeed the Loyalist fire-starters is the same old tactic they have used over and over again. They’re using incendiary language to rile up the Loyalist pack. They talk of the “funeral of the GFA”, about how we can’t have the GFA and the Protocol, it has to be one or the other; but as I mentioned before, that has somewhat backfired on them as people say ‘Fair enough, shut Stormont, it’s not even working at the minute thanks to Unionists, ironically’. These shadowy voices from Unionism, coercing people and riling them up will allow an explosion of violence before they come riding in on a big white horse to quell the crowd and ‘restore order’. Once again the Loyalist people of this state are being used as leverage, as a bargaining tool for political Unionism and for those in the LCC to get their way.
With all this negativity being sewn by Loyalist and Unionist voices around Irish unity, another bus hit them square in the face today and they may feel like it’s run right over them…and reversed for good measure. Contrary to what some may have thought and in Unionism’s mind hoped, a study released today by Ireland’s Future has claimed that contrary to previous estimates and figures, a united Ireland would cost only £3.2 billion (only, I know) compared to the £9.2 billion previously estimated and the best part about it is, it’s affordable on the grand scale of things.
Unionists really need to start catching up with the rest of Ireland, both North and South on the idea of uniting Ireland for the good of everyone. Indeed even John Kilclooney (Lord) is quoted as saying – “The DUP must consider what the alternatives are before it collapses the Belfast Agreement. It is not direct rule from London. Possibly the Tory Govt will do a deal with Southern Ireland for an all- Ireland.”
It’s just an example of the direction the minds of some are starting to go in and he’s quite possibly right. With Truss all but ignoring the DUP and Unionism in a bid to negotiate properly the NI Protocol with the EU, it looks like another nail in the coffin for the DUP whose one and only ‘political’ bargaining chip left was the fact they are sitting out of Stormont. With an ERG Chair as NI Minister apologising to Ireland and the EU for the way in which they were treated during negotiations, and Truss now telling the DUP to get back to work, John Kilclooney’s words may well ring true if the DUP do not play their cards right. Should that be the case, they will be seen as weak and untrustworthy by hardline Unionists and will have lost any and all leverage and standing with the UK government.
It will only reinforce what has happened in the past when they removed themselves from government…they come back weaker.