As 2020 begins, and it’s 2:30am on the first day of the decade as I sit down to write this having been unwell for a number of weeks, we find ourselves standing on the window ledge of the union, facing the greatest threat to our place in the United Kingdom since the Home Rule crisis over 100 years ago.
We will forever be trapped in this perilous situation until unionism collectively recognises some truisms.
We are locked in a ‘process’ born out of the Belfast Agreement. That process has been manipulatively tied to peace in order to create a phrase- the ‘peace process’- designed to force political compliance; you must support the process, or else you must be against peace- and if you are against peace you are a violent person and must be shunned anyway.
No one dares recognise the most basic and rational fact; you can be wholly committed to peace- as every right thinking person must always be- but be robustly opposed to the process, as every person is entitled to be.
Step one is to recognise the utter folly of accepting the prevailing proposition which has become embedded, and unwittingly enhanced by those who have devoted twenty years oiling the wheels not of peace, but of the process.
People naively, and perhaps nobly, believed their contributions was all about building peace, it never was. It was always about advancing the process and by entwining peace and the process the environment thrived whereby the continuation of peace was reliant upon the continuation of the process, and as such led people to believe that they were actually building peace, rather than simply advancing a process.
Let us break it down; a process, by its very definition, has a beginning and an end. We turn to the end of the process envisaged in domestic legislation in the Northern Ireland Act 1998. It is a referendum on Irish Unity, and once the answer is yes, then the process ends. There is no mechanism to re-enter the union, that is it forever and a day.
Therefore, for all those engaged in advancing the process, the most obvious starting point is to ask yourself where the process you are helping to advance ends? To which destination are you ‘processing’?
We have peace with a gun to its head; used to blackmail unionism into engaging in the process- a process which is designed to incrementally carve us off from the United Kingdom and develop all-Ireland harmonisation. If the reality of the situation is that we can’t have peace without acquiescence to a process that is designed to rob our country of us, then we never really had true peace at all, did we?
Unionism has been conditioned into being thankful that rather than being bombed and butchered out of our country by terrorists that instead the mere threat of a return to such a campaign is enough to win the requisite political concessions required by republicans in order to achieve the same ends by different means.
Of course for republicans the ‘peace process’ has always been a staging post. It was never a settlement, always a process, and because of the aforementioned contrived environment that made acquiescence to the process a pre-cursor for peace, the republican community could simply pull those levers again and again to demand concession after concession, each one designed to advance their own cause.
Unionism must unshackle ourselves from the binding chains of the process. Until we do we will forever be in perpetual decline. The process is designed to progress to a United Ireland, and therefore unionism will always be an impediment to that, because we stand in the way of the natural design flow of the agreement.
Therefore unionism will always be portrayed as regressive, whilst nationalists will don the mantle of progressive peace makers. It is designed that way, it is all about aiding the advancement of the process.
And so we come to Brexit, and understanding the ‘process’ dynamics outlined previously illuminates for us the core issue we now face. The British Government, behaving in a de-facto neutral way on the union, has negotiated from the flawed position of accepting that Northern Ireland is some kind of ‘place apart’, a zone of British territory that is a little less sovereign.
That is at the heart of the fundamental betrayal at exposes the dark heart of the ‘process’; Nationalism is to be treated at all times as Irish citizens entitled to exactly the same rights as those in the Irish republic, despite the fact they live in the UK, yet British citizens in Northern Ireland are expected to accept a dilution of our rights as equal British citizens in order to appease nationalists and pander to Irish interests?
As the Irish Government has lobbied aggressively for nationalist interests, the British Government has never simultaneously behaved in the same manner on behalf of unionism. Why not?
Consider the absurdity of it all, the United Kingdom Government would rather put an internal border within their own sovereign territory than risk upsetting a foreign Government seeking to use the negotiations to launch a land grab and carve Northern Ireland off from the rest of the UK.
Why must we pretend the border between NI and the Irish Republic doesn’t exist? Surely if the Irish Government and nationalism accept the Belfast Agreement they cling to so dearly, then they must accept the legitimacy of there being a border between two sovereign states? Of course they do not accept the Belfast Agreement as a settlement, because to them it is a transitional process. Unionism must come to accept that cold hard reality, and with that acceptance will surely come the realisation that this process offers nothing for unionism. We must break free from it whilst we still can.
It is time the British Government stood up for the British people of Northern Ireland in the same manner that the Irish Government has robustly fought for nationalists. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
We now face into another talks process, starting tomorrow. The levers of the process have been pulled by nationalists, yet again in order to obtain concessions. If unionism caves in and rewards their politics of hostage, then again it will be assisting nationalism in advancing their process. Why would any self-respecting unionist do that, unless of course it was simply about power at all costs?
If you want to know what nationalism really wants, despite all their grand pronouncements on equality and minority protections, then look at what happened with Brexit when the opportunity arose to drive NI into an economic United Ireland by shredding the key minority protection in the Belfast Agreement- cross community consent on key decisions- in relation to Assembly consent for the provisions of the Betrayal Act?
They demanded majority rule, because along with Alliance they believe they have a majority to deliver an economic United Ireland which is a key staging post in their ‘process’ of Irish unity. These people do not want equality, that was only ever a trojan horse- as many of us warned for years- towards their true goal; total supremacy.
And once they achieve supremacy what happens? Just have a look at Martina Anderson’s twitter account to see what they want to do with people like you and me. They say its time to ‘go home’.
That’s the real objective of the ‘process’; what unionist in the right mind could in all conscience continue down such a path?