Mainstream unionism’s dilemma
Sir, – I found John Wilson Foster’s article “Dublin out of touch with mainstream unionism” an interesting read (Opinion & Analysis, March 21st).
Something again that comes through is the fact there are large amounts of moderate unionists and nationalists that are not properly represented in the current Northern Ireland political set-up.
In order to achieve peace following years of appalling violence it was necessary to bring the more radical of both traditions to the table. This was successful to a certain degree and was crucial in the foundation of the Belfast Agreement. It also, however, made kingpins of the DUP and Sinn Féin as the sole representatives of their communities. This was very much at the expense of the more moderate UUP and the SDLP. The Belfast Agreement initially looked like it might work and a more integrated and inclusive society seemed a reasonable aspiration. Under the leadership of Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness there certainly was progress. After their deaths, however, that progress appears to have stopped if not gone backwards. When the people of Northern Ireland needed leadership more than ever with the emergence of Brexit, all the two main parties could do was consolidate their narrow viewpoints, leading to the current situation. Do they any longer represent the people who voted for them?
There would now appear to be a great opportunity for the UUP and SDLP and other moderates to fill the void by coming together and offering a real inclusive alternative with proper policies and vision, which are sadly lacking at present. – Yours, etc,