Unity is a valid political aspiration
Sir, – David O’Sullivan, a former EU commission secretary general, has said that to avoid unsettling unionists we should avoid “completely counterproductive speculation about possible border polls and reunification”, and “leave constitutional change for another time” (“United Ireland rhetoric provoking unionist backlash over NI protocol, says former diplomat”, News, March 4th).
Northern Ireland is part of the UK. That deeply influences every aspect of our lives, including governmental administration, justice and policing systems, public finances, and official symbolism. To say that it is improper even to postulate an alternative in which Ireland would be united and all its people enjoy equal citizenship cannot be reasonable, and does not create a Northern Ireland which treats unionists and nationalists equally.
There is a perfectly fair case to be made that the partition of the island has done great damage. The best form of government that has yet been created for Northern Ireland is that under the Belfast Agreement, and even so I would say that every Executive formed since 1998 has been a failure in dealing with the economic, administrative and social challenges. The reason is the fundamental disagreement on the constitutional question. Many countries across the world have deep divisions, many of which offer no full solution and can at best be managed. That is not the case in Ireland. I have worked closely alongside unionist politicians for many years, and I think I understand them quite well. I am in no doubt that a united Ireland can be built which will better serve all of its citizens. Those who share that belief are entitled to work for it. In an Ireland which has achieved so much, political parties which aspire to a united Ireland in their constitutions appear to have so little confidence in their ability to create one. – Yours, etc,
(Former SDLP MLA
Ballymena, Co Antrim.