New side advert

1 September 2013 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

Unionist leadership

Editorial | Eagarfhocal

Incredibly, some within political unionism still believe in the slogan of ‘not an inch’ but fail to recognise that playing hostage to Orange extremists is the political road to nowhere.


RECENT EVENTS on the streets of Belfast have been bad for politics and for the job of peace building and reconciliation on this island. Those behind the violence are fundamentally opposed to the concept of equality and a shared society.

Sinn Féin has never faltered in condemning those, from whatever quarter, who use violence to undermine the Peace Process. It is time that unionist leaders were equally clear and equally forthright.

The challenge for unionist political leaders in 2013 is the same one they have faced for decades — how to respond to the demand for change in the North.

Incredibly, some within political unionism still believe in the slogan of ‘not an inch’ but fail to recognise that playing hostage to Orange extremists is the political road to nowhere.

There are clearly others within unionism who actually understand the import of the Good Friday Agreement and of the need to reach compromises, agreements and accommodations so as to build a truly shared society.

This year, as before, Derry City saw the Apprentice Boys parade without nationalist opposition because there is dialogue. The same city played host this August to Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, held north of the Border for the first time ever and attracting 430,000 people in what was a huge success for the city and the Fleadh.

Just a tiny number of loyal order parades in the North — out of many hundreds each summer — are contentious because the organisers, unlike the Apprentice Boys in Derry, will not talk to their nationalist neighbours who are directly affected by the parades.

Republicans have been very clear that we uphold and will defend the right of unionists to express their British identity. They need also to acknowledge the Irish identity of their nationalist neighbours and their right to see societal and institutional expression of that identity.

The upcoming talks to be chaired by former US envoy Richard Haass can succeed if approached in the right spirit. Sinn Féin wants to achieve a durable and sensible agreement on parades, flags and emblems and on dealing with the legacy of the past.

The DUP decision to sabotage the agreement reached on the future of the Maze/Long Kesh site is both politically and economically foolish. More seriously, it encourages those within unionism who mistakenly believe that they can turn back the clock to a time before the Good Friday Agreement.

The Orange state is gone. Most sensible people, North and South, nationalist and unionist, know this and welcome it. These are the people who unionist leaders should be listening to rather than a violent minority opposed to peace, equality or a shared society.

GUE-NGL-new-Jan-2106

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

Powered by Phoenix Media Group