Unionists and a united Ireland


Sir, – I see that Labour chairman Jack O’Connor is the latest to suggest that, in the event of a united Ireland, unionists be given guaranteed ministerial places in government (News, May 1st).

How could these “unionists” be defined, since the union would no longer exist?

That was an issue which southern Irish unionists, beached on the wrong side of a revolution, had to face a century ago.

In January 1922, the Church of Ireland Gazette recognised that, “Unionism has, in any practical guise, ceased to exist in practical politics . . . We regret its passing unreservedly, but practical men must face facts.”

Which, broadly, they did. It took a long time for the ex-unionists to come round, but by and large they entered into citizenship in the new State unencumbered by previous political baggage. It was their Protestantism on which their relationship with the State was based.

But if the implication of Mr O’Connor’s suggestion is that Protestants would have ministerial places, that opens a whole can of sectarian worms, never mind a territorial distinction between Protestants in the northern six counties and those in the rest of the island. Embedding sectarianism in any new political arrangement for the island is not the path forward. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.