Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The civic space: Towards a civic unionism

At Forth magazine, I write about unionism's capacity to deliver civic politics to Northern Ireland. Jason Walsh will reply from the nationalist perspective.

Jason and I share the conviction that Northern Ireland’s politics ought to focus on civic discourse, if they are to assume a less confrontational, less sectarian shape. My contention is that a province, remaining solidly within the United Kingdom, is best placed to draw upon civic and institutional influences, rather than the cultural preoccupations which currently predominate, precisely because the state is a multi-national construct which makes its appeal primarily on the basis of political allegiance, rather than a perceived monolithic identity. It is incumbent upon unionists to celebrate the diversity of their state and frame their arguments in civic terms, rather than continue to call forth Conor Cruise O’Brien’s ‘ancestral voices’.

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