Kenny Donaldson, a party officer of the UUP, has some interesting points on the possible formation of a new unionist party. Donaldson may be guilty of according the nascent grouping too great an importance, but the precedent he evokes certainly stands up to some scrutiny in terms of mentality.
“Many Unionists of my parent’s generation will feel a deep sense of deja-vu. The reality is that Unionism started internally dividing itself when the present First Minister, Dr Paisley and others decided they neither had the stomach, nor the political or civic responsibility to face up to the challenges of accommodating nationalism within an internal political settlement. 30 years later and the penny still hasn’t dropped for some people. "
The following judgment is indisputable, qualified as it is with the proviso that terrorism played an important part in the hardening of attitudes.
“Let’s be clear; we have the sectarian carve up that we have because people refused to share responsibility for the governing of Northern Ireland decades ago.”
Regular readers of this blog will hardly be surprised that I fully endorse Kenny’s analysis of the current situation which pertains in Northern Ireland, as outlined below.
“In the run up to 1998 and for the 7/8 years thereafter, the DUP and Sinn Fein set about destroying the centre-ground, fuelled by their own selfish agendas they sought to bring about the conditions, which ensured our Country was carved up between the ‘prods’ and the ‘taigs.’ Despite the fact that this reality has come to pass I am confident that in the medium-long term, the public do not want their children to grow up in a society where there is mutual loathing between the principle protagonists charged with delivering Government. Forget about the amicable photographs, the mutual nods of agreement, the stomach-churning camaraderie on show between the ‘chuckle brothers’ and their respective merry men and women. This is but self-serving spin and mutually constructed choreography.”
Donaldson wishes to see the UUP playing a big role in the redressing of this communal carve up, and sees the party's future in the electorate's return to the middle ground.
“My core objective is to see the Ulster Unionist Party rebuild itself so that it can go forth and deliver for the people of Northern Ireland. I do not see the introduction of a new Unionist Party as advantageous. Do people really believe that Sinn Fein can be removed from Stormont at this stage? The parameters of our political settlement have been set, principally by the UK Government and supported by the Government of the Irish Republic, people need to get real; they need to deliver positive change for the people of Northern Ireland within the realms of possibility. For too long politicians in Northern Ireland sought power, now they have it but they need to realise that with power, comes responsibility,”
At a time when a blog claiming to represent the Young Unionists seems more inclined to trumpet an extremist like Jim Allister and at a time when influential members of the party wish to reach an accommodation with the DUP or move closer to their policies, it is heartening to hear a constructive vision of the role of Ulster Unionists from a younger member. Equally it is uplifting to hear a fellow member with an optimistic view of the future and faith that the electorate will grow tired of the communal carve-up which is the basis of the current executive.