A former Sinn Féin MLA noted the other day that “Republicans will not accept” the current constitutional position. The problem is, they have to – it is what they signed up to in 1998.
The Agreement, as Nationalists point out, allows people to aspire to and campaign for a United Ireland, and makes arrangements for if they are successful. But it also allows people to aspire and campaign against them – and of course, they too may be successful.
The Agreement places Northern Ireland within the UK – and while it is clear that it may not remain there, it is also clear that it may!
Just as yesterday I noted that the naming of sports grounds after Republican terrorists is somebody else’s business, Republicans must also accept that somebody else has a say over Northern Ireland’s constitutional position – and likely a decisive one. These things are not for Unionists alone to decide; but they are not for Republicans alone to decide either.
This is further evidence that, contrary to Messrs Robinson’s and McGuinness’s fine words, neither “side” has grasped the reality of their task. Building the “shared and united community” of which they speak does not consist of trying to persuade the other “side” that they are wrong to aspire to what they aspire to (or even to be who they are); it consists of real and genuine compromise. That will mean “accepting” things you don’t want to accept; and remembering our common citizenship which means it is somebody else’s business when we do!