Belfast Telegraph

Diane Dodds: Consensus is that Northern Ireland's position in the Union is secure

DUP MEP says a shared future should not 'mean an anaemic society where people are bereft of an identity'

There is now a fixed consensus that we are better off as part of the Union. Census data, and the recent Belfast Telegraph poll, confirm that Northern Ireland’s position within the Union is secure.

Today, less than a third of nationalist voters see their future as part of a united Ireland. Such polling data was unthinkable a generation ago.

However, it is to be welcomed that a majority now recognise the advantages for everyone when we are part of one of the world’s economic powerhouses.  This changing reality has caused the opponents of unionism to intensify their cultural war.

In recent months, we have witnessed horrendous memorials to terrorist atrocities, attacks on parades and the removal of the Union flag. Yet in the midst of it all, support for the Union has not wavered, indeed it has increased.

What most people have come to understand is this: Living in this part of the world requires an accommodation of difference. What most people see is a new and confident Northern Ireland, taking its place within the global economy.

The opponents of unionism have tried to take us back, but the recent polling data only serves to prove that a new Northern Ireland is emerging from its troubled past.

We cannot, however, be complacent. The majority of people living here, both unionist and nationalist, have been convinced of the argument to remain within the United Kingdom, but we must strengthen our resolve. To build a better future requires hard work today.

As Richard Haass started his work this week, we must work to resolve the cultural tensions we face.  We want to see a society where there is respect for differing cultures rather than intolerance. A shared future should not mean an anaemic society where people are bereft of an identity.

Mending the cultural divisions in our society will be no easy task, but it is one the DUP is prepared to tackle. We enter the future confident in what we have achieved and ready to keep Northern Ireland moving forward. 

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