Protestant population decline and the political short-sightedness of unionism
Why unionists might be better off thinking, and doing, the unthinkable
The burning of churches and wholesale murder of priests and nuns during the Spanish Civil War provoked an expedition of Irish volunteers, led by the Blueshirt Eoin O’Duffy. Their intervention was to fizzle out in drunkenness, indiscipline and some not very Catholic behaviour in bars and brothels.
While many commentators would argue that Sinn Féin should be awarded the prize for actually advancing traditional republican objectives over recent decades, the ‘purists’ or ‘dissidents’ who call them traitors are still with us. And will be for some time to come, a new study argues.
It has been suggested that a second New Ireland Forum should be convened to help dispel unionist fears of the inevitable united Ireland. Perhaps we should instead explore the intimate mutual relations between Ireland and Britain, something of a sore point, it seems, for many Irish.
More than one future is foreseeable for Northern Ireland. We could have a united Ireland, as Protestants lose their numerical majority. Or we could have a continuation of the link with Britain, not unpopular with all Catholics. But there’s one thing we can be sure of: the future is not Orange.
While it is part and parcel of a ritual reaffirmation of identity, republicanism in Ireland has no practical significance in everyday life: it does nothing to alleviate burning problems in areas such as housing, health, transport or pollution. The concept once had other, more fruitful, meanings.
On whether strategic thinking in peace negotiations should outweigh moral considerations, Bertie Ahern’s mind was clear. Isolating the extremes and supporting the moderates would not solve the problem: the challenge was to make peace with your enemies, not your friends.
Scandals which cause huge political ripples and even topple governments can result from both political and civil-service incompetence. A special adviser to Arlene Foster said that during his entire time in Stormont he never once saw minutes of a meeting involving his minister.