Unionist leaders neither truly British nor truly Protestant

If Unionists are world champions at anything, it is manufactured rage.

Of course, the presence of paramilitary trappings at a funeral is outrageous. But then, the presence of paramilitary trappings on public property or at war memorials is outrageous. How about some consistency? Ah no, you see, it’s one rule for “usuns” and one rule for “themmuns”.

This July, as ever, has seen courageous public servants injured by mobs; an arranged fight between (ahem, female) kids in a busy shopping street; and even the export of paramilitarism by a Bangor man to Alice Springs where he plans to “tar and feather” Aboriginals. All of these hint that parts of Northern Irish society are fundamentally uncivilised – yet they drew scant comment from Unionist leaders who could do something about it.

As a British Protestant, I am fed up with seeing my national flag besmirched by its placing on public property alongside paramilitary flags; and I am fed up with seeing my religion besmirched with the ludicrous notion that burning an image of the mother of Christ or forcing co-religionists out of their homes is my “culture”.

The fact that Unionist leaders choose, at best, to do nothing about these things says more to their own lack of real understanding or both Britishness and Protestantism. This lack of understanding of what it is to be a responsible British citizen and compassionate follower of the reformed faith has much to answer for.

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2 thoughts on “Unionist leaders neither truly British nor truly Protestant

  1. Scots Anorak says:

    Northern Ireland is a place of competing nationalisms, Irish, Loyalist and British, where the final two overlap but are not synonymous. It’s refreshing to read an acknowledgment, albeit implicit, from the Alliance Party that its recipe for civilisation is also a kind of nationalism, advocating a version of Britishness that perhaps only half of Ulster Unionists are in any way drawn to. Alliance Britishness is non-sectarian, which is great — full marks. Where I think it falls down is in its struggles to accommodate legitimate ethnic difference, evidenced in the views of many of its politicians on the Irish language. Put simply, too many of them are still discussing it as if it were a flag.

    If one accepts that there are three nationalisms (rather than nationalism being a phenomenon of the two extremes happily missing in the civilised, though resolutely British, centre), the issue becomes one of civilised behaviour and rules for co-existence, bearing in mind that the conclusion one draws regarding bilingual signage might not necessarily mirror conclusions drawn regarding flags or parades. One doesn’t achieve those rules for co-existence by trying to turn Northern Ireland back to the 1950s, nor to 1916. But nor does one achieve them by pretending that Northern Ireland is culturally the south of England — for which reason I believe that Scotland and Wales provide far better models.

    Common sense, really.

    • I must re-emphasise I absolutely do NOT speak for the Alliance Party!

      There is in fact no way a party representative would have written that article. You specify the Irish language because of your interest in it, but the fact is the Alliance Party doesn’t do identity at all. Liberals in general tend not to.

      I do it personally because I think Liberals are wrong on that point. We are all products of culture and identity. Liberals should seek openly to accommodate that, not to deny it.

      That said, I suspect you will be pleasantly surprised by the party’s direction of travel on the Irish language. There is already at least one fluent speaker among its elected ranks.

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