Notwithstanding yesterday’s blog, looked at remotely rationally I find it hard to disagree with a single word of Tommy McKearney’s piece here. Mr McKearney is a former hunger striker and a socialist; I am the son of an Army Officer and a liberal; really, Unionism is going some to get Mr McKearney and me on to the same side!
I have to say I am concerned that the media have not focused on the real issue around the Unionist Unity project in Mid-Ulster. Mr Nesbitt, Mr McCallister and Mr McCrea are but minor bit players in this show. The real issue is the attempt to equate Unionism with clean hands and Republicanism with terror – an attempt which is sure to fail, with potentially grave results for the increasingly fragile institutions here.
Some friends of mine within Unionism have made the case for Mr Lutton’s candidacy based on the moral prerogative to show Sinn Fein up. I agree with the moral prerogative, but this is the worst possible tactic – partly because it is so obviously crudely sectarian; and partly because Mr Lutton is no politician and will need protection as it is. As Mr McKearney points out, the past will be dug up in both directions – and, what is worse, the so-called “Republicans” will win comfortably, thus appearing to justify the very reading of history Unionists, even some moderate Unionists, are trying to show up.
In an area already as embittered as Mid-Ulster with the whole political process as unstable as it is, this is not just stupid, it is dangerous. The Ulster Unionist Party should never have allowed it to happen, and will take responsibility for the consequences to its grave.