That a parade – any parade – commemorating IRA men is taking place anywhere in Northern Ireland in 2013 is outrageous.
Yet not only is Sinn Féin about to get away with it, but it is about to get away with it while looking comparatively good. This is also outrageous – but it is something Unionism caused to happen.
Unionism is held hostage bluntly by the inclusion in its thinking of too many people with no ability to understand contemporary Northern Ireland as a whole or to strategise beyond next week. Far from embracing enlightened people as it sometimes did in the past, it is hamstrung now by a rabid anti-intellectualism whereby people with education (and knowledge of the world at large) are sneered at. The consequence? Not only do IRA parades take place, Unionism’s political opponents get to look good while they take place. Most of all, this is an appalling injustice to victims of IRA terrorism.
Unionism has been so busy defending law breakers, UVF flags and anti-social behaviour dressed up as “culture” (e.g. the burning of national flags or religious symbols on bonfires) that it has been left without a coherent case against the biggest parades outrage yet – the one which is about to take place in Castlederg. I have consistently warned that Unionism is using a defence awfully like the one Sinn Féin uses to justify IRA violence. Now that is being aptly demonstrated.
Not only that, but Sinn Féin has even cunningly made itself look “reasonable” while carrying out this outrage by re-routing the parade, in the ultimate example of balkanisation, leaving Unionism with absolutely no case.
Unionism had better start addressing the real Northern Ireland in which we are all minorities, and respecting rather than rejecting those who bring intellectual vigour to the debate, or its future will only be ever more uncomfortable.