when do you have to agree with people to defend them from injustice?
The question is often asked - What do Unionists actually want? Where do they see themselves going? After yet another pointless demand for Sinn Féins expulsion from the Stormont Assembly and yet another bout of agonised infighting and grandstanding within the ranks, it bears asking again.
The Unionists know the Shinners aren't going to get kicked out of Stormont until either a) the Provos go officially and indisputably back to war b) the GFA is abandoned by both Governments c) There is a United Ireland d) Hell freezes over or e) All of the above.
So what is the point, besides mindless pandering to the backwoodsmen? From the outside, it appears that Unionists prefer the certainties and simplicities of being the "poor oppressed law-abiding peace-loving democrats" under siege by the Big Bad IRA. The challenges of open debate and having to formulate a coherent policy position and long-term strategy are unattractive in comparison to a good bout of MOPE-ing. The legendary Siege Mentality, in other words, is a bizarre communal comfort blanket and general cop-out!
A related phenonemon can be witnessed in relation to Unionist attitudes to a United Ireland. Partition was always meant to be a temporary affair, as even Carson acknowledged. And indeed one is inevitable one way or the other within a generation. Unionists know this to be the case. They know there is no long-term future in the Partition Experiment. And yet they will expend enormous energy, jump through unbelievable hoops, twist and contort themselves into the most unlikely, painful and futile positions, all to postpone the inevitable for just one more day.
You have to wonder at what the strain is doing to them...
And again, the drive the point home - they do it to themselves. It's all in their heads. There is no siege other than the one inside the minds of Unionists. There is nothing to fear, nothing to lose and everything to gain from a United Ireland - especially if Unionists embraced the concept and got busy redefining the debate so that the final shape of the Second Republic is to their liking. Consider - a fraction of the frenzied energy currently being expended tilting at windmills could, if constructively applied, swiftly break the sterile political logjam on this island and unleash a torrent of positive transformation. In contrast, all Unionism achieves at present is the building of bigger windmills.
The potential benefits for Unionists are immense. An ending of the "siege" with the self-confidence that comes from seizing control of your destiny rather than railing with perverse masochism against irresistable forces. The creation of an all-island Irish State that they had a full part in building and in which they can finally find a place to call Home. Real political power on an all-Ireland basis in an atmosphere of general goodwill rather than the sullen embittered miserable future they seem to be actively seeking at present. And last but not least the permanent nullification of both Physical Force and Provisional Republicanism in one fell swoop.
It is time for the Scots-Irish and Anglo-Irish peoples of the north of Ireland to cast off their props and crutches. Time to learn once more, after a century of abject dependency, to stand on their own two feet. Time to stand tall, with the rest of the Irish peoples, on this island we all call home. As equals.
INDEX: Current Articles
6 June 2002
Other Articles From This Issue:
Paul A. Fitzsimmons
2 June 2002
Killing of Children
Is To Be Done? What Is To Be Thought?
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