and feuding have caused Northern unionism to suffer
a political cardiac arrest. Urgent shock treatment
is required to re-start unionism's heart. What is
realistically required is certainly not another
political party, pressure group or leader claiming
to defend the Union with Great Britain.
unionism needs is a new ideological direction; one
which will unite rather than divide all shades of
unionist, Protestant, Orange and loyalist thinking
in the North. The last generation has witnessed
unionism indulge in the luxury of internecine fragmentation
to the point that some groups are reduced to fringe
status, such is their insignificance. What unionism
needs is a political revolution. It needs a new
sense of destiny in a technological world which
is rapidly seeing the evolution of a European super
brought the ethos of the global village to Ireland;
the world wide web has brought us the concept of
the international living room. Unionism needs a
forward-thinking ideology which will project its
people to the forefront of the new Europe. If unionism
does not experience this revolution, but clings
to past ideologies, in less than a generation it
will become nothing more than an ageing fan club
for the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and a memorial
to the opening day of the Battle of the Somme in
ideological forms of unionism have failed, or are
failing, the Northern Protestant people. Traditional
unionism as espoused by Lord Edward Carson and the
1912 Ulster Volunteer Force relies purely on Protestant
numerical superiority. Fragmentation and voter apathy
will be its epitaph.
its recent gains in the Assembly elections of November
2003, fundamentalist unionism is essentially built
around the persona of Democratic Unionist Party
leader and Free Presbyterian Moderator Dr Ian Paisley.
This one-man ideology will implode with the death
of Dr Paisley as the DUP's rival Free Presbyterian
and working class loyalist wings battle for control
of the party.
unionist labour ideology, as represented by the
Progressive Unionist Party and Ulster Political
Research Group (the parties closest to the political
thinking of the loyalist terror groups the UVF and
Ulster Freedom Fighters), slit its own throat in
terms of influence as rival loyalist paramilitaries
immersed themselves in bloody street feuds and turf
wars over drugs.
and ecumenical unionism has been equally dealt a
fatal blow by the emphatic announcement from the
Vatican that Roman Catholicism is the only one and
true Christian Faith.
New Unionism of Ulster Unionist Party leader David
Trimble is in danger of suffering the same fate
as former Northern Ireland Prime Minister Terence
O'Neill who equally tried to harmonise relations
with the Republic and bring republicanism in from
the icy political cold.
November 2003s election results showed New
Unionism has yet to convince Northern Protestants
of the merits of the Good Friday Agreement given
that the Paisley camp overran the UUP to become
the majority voice for the unionist family.
these political flops and seemingly
insurmountable hurdles, where could Northern unionism
look to find its rebirth? Irish politics is full
of ironies. Revolutionary Unionism is based on the
concept that Northern Protestants should no longer
see themselves as being hemmed in to
the six geographical counties of Northern Ireland.
it was Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams who urged
Northern Unionists to seriously consider the option
that it would be better for them to be twenty per
cent in a united Ireland than two per cent in a
United Kingdom. Naturally, the idea has been rejected
by many unionists simply because it was expressed
by the leader of the Provisional IRA's political
what if Northern Protestants called the Sinn Fein
bluff? Given the rise of the Sinn Fein vote in the
Republic, the republican movement could soon hold
the balance of power - even with only a handful
of seats in the Dail - giving it a political clout
that it has not enjoyed since the General Election
of 1918 when Ireland was still under British rule.
real reason the republican movement has suggested
an all-Ireland dimension to Northern unionists is
because Sinn Fein actually fears the thought of
Northern Protestants having a major say in the running
of a 32-county state.
an all-Ireland scenario, the SDLP would disappear
in a merger with Fianna Fail. Sinn Fein will always
hold the mantel of fringe status - which
it currently holds in Southern politics for
as long as the Provisionals exist.
would leave Northern unionists effectively as the
major power broker in Irish politics. The problem
is, many Northern unionists see any talk of a relationship
with the South as treasonable.
late 1998, when the veteran politician Conor Cruise
O'Brien suggested in his biography that unionists
should consider their future in a united Ireland,
he eventually had to resign from the staunchly anti-Agreement
United Kingdom Unionist Party which is led by former
North Down MP Robert McCartney.
politically unpalatable an all-Ireland concept may
be to Northern Protestants, it will become a hard
political reality in less than a generation. This
is not because Northern nationalists will outbreed
or outvote their Protestant counterparts, but because
of the increasing power of Europeanisation. Within
a decade, the pound and the punt could be eclipsed
by the euro.
Southern Irish economy is experiencing an economic
boom, but it will only be a matter of time before
the Celtic tiger is hunted by the eurocrats of a
a rapidly expanding European Union, there is the
real danger the political identities of both Northern
and Southern Ireland will be drowned in a vast bureaucratic
sea as Germany bids for European domination for
the third time in less than a century.
united Germany has twice tried unsuccessfully to
achieve such domination using military methods under
Kaiser William in 1914 and Adolf Hitler in 1939;
now the financial eurocrats are trying the economic
more former Soviet republics are integrated into
this ever-expanding European Union, the island of
Ireland will find itself not only geographically,
but also economically and politically on the fringes
of the United States of Europe. As with the United
States of America, national state borders will merely
become meaningless lines on a map.
Northern Protestants think they have lived through
a nightmare generation at the hands of physical
force Irish republicanism, wait until they
get a taste of the economic fiasco which awaits
them in a united Europe.
a negative approach means unionists jumping on the
nearest boat to Scotland or calling for the repartition
of Northern Ireland and cramming Northern Protestants
into a two-county Ulster based in Antrim and Down.
Revolutionary Unionism takes the view - why should
Northern Protestants confine their political influence
to six counties; why not have a say in the running
of all thirty-two?
would not be the first time that Northern Protestants
have exerted such an influence on the island of
Ireland. The success of the Glorious Revolution
and the Williamite Settlement in the late 17th century
saw the birth of the Protestant Ascendancy throughout
ascendancy could have been copper-fastened politically
a century later in 1798 had the Presbyterian-inspired
United Irishmen's rebellion succeeded. Its failure
was partly due to the military incompetence of the
Catholic forces within the United Irishmen's movement
as well as English establishment support for the
fledging Orange Order to split the ranks of the
this respect, the exclusively Protestant Orange
Order was used by the English to sow mistrust between
the Presbyterians and the Catholics, thereby weakening
the political cohesion of the United Irishmen's
too, can speculate as to the outcome of a military
confrontation in pre-partition Ireland in 1914 between
Lord Edward Carsons Ulster Volunteers and
Michael Collins Irish Volunteers had the Home
Rule crisis not been temporarily put on hold by
the outbreak of World War One.
the tactical superiority of the Northern Protestant
forces at that time, it would be logical to assume
that any partition of the island as a result of
civil war would have created a much larger geographical
Northern Ireland. Likewise, we can equally speculate
on a similar military outcome had the pro-Treaty
Collins not been murdered by republicans before
he had the chance to invade the fledgling Northern
Northern Protestants need further evidence of their
effectiveness in an all-Ireland scenario, they need
only look to the legends of the Ulster warrior Cuchulainn
and his friends King Conor and Conall Cearnach in
the period 100 AD to 200 AD. Time and again, the
trio fought off the raids by the Southern leader,
Queen Maeve of Connacht, who had to resort to using
Black Magic to eventually kill Cuchulainn.
Unionism is based on the need for the countries
comprising the British Isles to unite and give themselves
a voice against a European Union's political and
financial domination. It is not the first time such
a concept has been mooted.
1980, Sir John Biggs-Davison, the former Conservative
front-bench spokesman on Northern Ireland, suggested
a loose linkage of the United Kingdom, the Republic,
Isle of Man and Channel Islands to form the Islands
of North Atlantic (IONA).
reality, the only political grouping which could
have any effective and meaningful voice against
a European super state is the British Commonwealth
of nations. Revolutionary Unionisms all-Ireland
scenario would see the Republic rejoining the British
Commonwealth with the Monarchy as head of state.
The countries which formed the geographical British
Isles would be ruled by a Council of the Isles.
a Southern point of view, being in the British Commonwealth
would mean that Southern Ireland would not become
politically marginalised as the Euro cash well runs
dry. For Northern Protestants, they would be part
of a structure that was both British and had the
Monarch as head of state.
doubt, sceptics will laugh at Revolutionary Unionism's
concept of the 32-County Ulster scenario.
But then, less than a decade ago, many sceptics
laughed at the thought of a legislative assembly
at Stormont containing Sinn Fein and Unionist ministers.
any new ideology, Revolutionary Unionism will not
become an overnight sensation. One flaw is the choice
of Monarch to lead the revitalised British Commonwealth.
The British Monarchy has had its own fair share
of personal troubles. Whilst Elizabeth the Second
has been an effective Queen, there can be no doubting
that Charles will be a weak King. The only hope
lies in his son, Prince William, who is displaying
remarkable maturity and realism. A British Commonwealth
led by King William has the potential to become
a powerful voice in European politics.
the Republic needs is to become a member of a political
power block capable of protecting the Celtic tiger.
What Northern Protestants need is a unionist ideology
capable of healing their own self-inflicted wounds
and securing their identity in the Europe of the
Unionism is not about Northern Ireland joining the
Republic. Revolutionary Unionism is primarily about
giving Northern Protestants a new identity free
of fragmentation and feuding; it is about creating
the scenario in which the Republic can rejoin an
all-Ireland as part of the British Commonwealth
of nations. It is about creating the ethos amongst
Protestants, north and south, of one party, one
faith, one people.
unionists ill attempt to dismiss the Revolutionary
Unionist ideology as a united Ireland under another
name. But realistically, who would the ultra hard
Right in Unionism ever agree with? Revolutionary
Unionism is not about concessions to Dublin or the
is it an attempt to repackage the concept of civic
unionism as outlined by the academic Norman Porter
because his all-Ireland dimension would appear to
be based on the outright surrender of Northern unionism
to Irish imperialism. Revolutionary Unionism is
about securing the future of Northern Protestants
in the wider European Union until such times
as the island of Ireland is strong and brave enough
to leave that Union.
concepts of Revolutionary Unionism are as important
to securing the long-term political well being and
economic stability of Southern citizens within that
European Union as they are of securing the future
identity of Northern Protestants. Trimble's New
Unionism has built the foundations for a bright
future for Northern Protestants on this island.
Unfortunately, Trimble has been unable to electorally
convince the majority of unionists of these benefits.
it is up to Northern Protestants to construct a
building on those foundations. The DUP can achieve
this by laying its paramilitary past with Ulster
Third Force and Ulster Resistance firmly to rest
and concluding a workable and lasting deal with
Northern Protestants have a choice. They can continue
on their present path of fragmentation and feuding,
in which case the building will become unionism's
they can follow the path of Revolutionary Unionism
and build a new Ireland free of the threat of European
financial domination. Maybe the unthinkable has
become the obvious solution to uniting unionism