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Letters to the Editor

Political unionism has no desire to enter genuine partnership

Patrick Fahy. Letters to Editor. Irish News. Belfast. Friday, February 10, 2017

It is there now for all of us to see. That political unionism in the form of the DUP and, I suggest, the UUP as well, have no desire to enter into genuine partnership with those of us who come from the nationalist tradition in the north. The ‘hold our noses’ element, which despises us, while being forced to deal with us, is clearly in control within the DUP and it is that which has brought us to the present impasse. They have managed until now to delay the process towards equality and mutual accommodation which the Good Friday Agreement so solemnly promised. But the collapse of the power sharing assembly is ample proof that the naysayers cannot stop the march towards full and unequivocal respect, not just for our Irish culture, but also for our political values as Irish nationalists within the northern state. In effect, time has been called on their disrespect towards us, and on the corruption that invariably goes hand-in-hand with the abuse of power. Unlike those from the nationalist and republican community who suffered in previous generations, we have it within our power to ensure that we will not any time in the future have to endure unionist domination. The now incontestable fact is that the DUP or for that matter the UUP, can exercise power in the north only in collaboration with the representatives of Irish nationalism, and, crucially, under the framework of the Good Friday Agreement.

Those figures from within the SDLP hierarchy who are asking the nationalist people to vote for the UUP on March 2 are in effect giving succour to those reactionary unionist elements who wish to destroy the mandatory power sharing arrangements of the Good Friday Agreement. As we continue to digest the revelations of the past two months, those figures should hang their heads in shame and their party leader, if he is to retain any credibility, should disown them. We have seen not only the DUP role in the RHI scandal and their shamefully petty acts of discrimination against the Irish language. We have also listened to the comment from the leader of the UUP, as he sought to gain political advantage over the DUP, that he ‘could smell an Irish Language Act coming’. There may be a battle going on within political unionism, but there is, in reality, no difference for nationalists and republicans between the messages of the two unionist parties. They are both implacably imposed to the concept of true equality for those of us from the nationalist community whose only demand is a permanent end to injustice and the creation of a society based on fairness.

It is time for the nationalist community, in a spirit of peace and reconciliation towards those from the unionist tradition, but with dignified and unquenchable resolve, to demand respect and equality. We ask no more than that. The Good Friday Agreement provided the template for a peaceful future. We must ensure that we do not allow the vision and the hope of that Agreement to be destroyed or dimmed. We can do that by coming out and carefully casting our votes on March 2.

Patrick Fahy
Omagh, Co Tyrone

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Irish National Caucus
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