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Joe Graham's Reply to Sean Smyth

Steve McWilliams • 25/10/2002

Joe Graham's reply to Sean Smyth (Pipedream Peace)

Your response raised some valid points, and well expressed your point of view. I must say, though, that I seem to recall the TUs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries trying to unite the workers, regardless of their religion, their political views, etc. After some initial success, the Brits stepped in and sowed division in the unionist camp, in essence saying "you don't want to stand with those dirty Catholics do you? They are not your brothers, they want to drag you into a united Ireland." What reason have we to believe that it would be any different today? While there are surely some open-minded unionists out there who may welcome a cross-community organisation to begin to end the hate, to break down the barriers, it is my opinion that far too many would, either enthusiastically or simply by default, embrace the announcement by their "leaders" that any alliance with Catholics/Nationalists would be akin to a surrender of the union, a conceding to a united Ireland. The sort of hate-mongering, sowing of fear and distrust, of which the Brits are so adept at, would likely strangle any nascent community organisation in its crib.

I do agree that it is essential to form ties with moderate unionists, such as they are. It is only that we must find a forum in which it will be difficult for the Brits, or the likes of Trimble, Paisley, et al, to sow dissent, hatred and intolerance. As well, regardless of our agenda, goals, intent, the unionists must not feel threatened, i.e. they must feel that the explicit goal, or even an outgrowth of such ties, is unification. Indeed, such a forum need not pursue that objective - we have other organisations working towards that noble end. This does not imply deception on our part, the object of this community-wide agency should be solely to build ties, build trust, build tolerance. The shadowy forces will resist these efforts, but if we can demonstrate from the start that such ties do not threaten their (the unionists) identity, then we may well be able to push the denizens of darkness back into their cesspool. If the TUs can be a part of this - wonderful, so long as all involved remember why they are there, and not descend into polemics, into petty political wrangling.

Let it be shouted from the rooftops that the GFA is a dismal failure, that it descended into the politics of division, that its participants betrayed their electorate. Let those same participants be denounced as the most detestable brand of petty bureaucrats, interested only in self-aggrandisement and the pursuit of personal power and privelege. Once again it falls to the people to bring about change. Let us move forward, arm in arm, to the steps of Stormont Castle and declare "this is our land, not yours!" Send them packing and begin to build the sort of communities that we want our children to grow up in. That is the road to progress.



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