Border poll and Northern Ireland


Sir, – Recent correspondents have suggested one can continue to be a “unionist” when voting for a united Ireland.

Unionism is not a political philosophy, much less a cultural or genetic strain. It is a constitutional preference to remain part of the United Kingdom. That is the single common identifying policy of all those parties that include the word in their title. Political labels have to mean something.

The current impasse in Ireland cannot be reduced to a constant Humpty Dumpty jumble of semantic name-calling or two nations nonsense.

There are no “purebloods” left, whether native Gael or planter-settlers. The surnames Adams, Morrison, and Bell are no more a signifier of constitutional choice than are those of O’Neill, McCusker or Murphy. – Yours, etc,


Florence Street,



Sir, – While it is true there are historic correlations between unionism, Protestantism and a British identity (and between nationalism, Catholicism and Irishness), these traits are not mutually dependent. Indeed Andrew Gallagher (June 11th) supports this idea when he concedes many nationalists are content to remain part of the UK and that many unionists would prefer an independent Northern Ireland.

Many other people in the North do not hold political views of any persuasion but are assigned a political grouping relative to their perceived culture and thus denied an identity which may more readily represent them.

Unionism and nationalism are political ideologies that are open to persuasion and rational thought. Continuing to rigidly apply cultural traits to political ideologies only serves to exacerbate division and inevitably delays the potential for any truly lasting peace in Ireland. – Yours, etc,


Priory Road,