Peter Robinson right to warn of unionism sleepwalking toward Irish unity
Refusing to acknowledge Border poll threat plays into Sinn Féin’s hands
Peter Robinson is saying to unionists don’t fail to make preparations because of the mistaken assumption that a particular outcome – in this case a Border poll – won’t happen. Photograph: North West Newspix
For most of my lifetime I’ve been listening to unionist leaders telling me why successive outcomes can’t or won’t happen: no British government would ever get rid of the Stormont parliament; there would never be mandatory powersharing between unionists and nationalists; there would never be a formal “Irish dimension” in Northern Ireland politics; the British/Irish governments would never agree to a “joint sovereignty” deal over the heads of a unionist majority; unionists would never share power with Sinn Féin; the DUP would never share power with Sinn Féin; there would be a unionist majority in Belfast City Council for decades to come; unionists wouldn’t lose their overall majority in the Assembly. Feel free to add to that list.
Peter Robinson – one of the canniest political and electoral strategists in British politics – would have had that list in mind when he made his “I don’t expect my own house to burn down . . . but I still insure it” comment last Friday.