Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

British and 'little Ulster' are not the same thing

I note with interest Mike Nesbitt's effective admission that unionism isn't so much about the Union with Great Britain as about the ability to "express British cultural identity".

I must say, I personally have become increasingly frustrated at my inability to express my 'British identity' in Northern Ireland.

My vehicle registration plate, uniquely distinct from the rest of the UK, is a bad start; then my gay friends, uniquely in the UK, will soon not be allowed to get married; then, of course, there is the outrage that libel laws passing through the rest of the UK will not apply in Northern Ireland.

One minor victory for my 'British identity' was the recent decision by Belfast City Council to fly the Union flag in line with guidance from the Royal College of Arms and the traditional British norm.

However, in each and every one of these cases, unionists support British people in Northern Ireland being forced to be distinct from the British norm.

In other words, unionists continue to assault my British identity – you know, the real British identity of pluralism and tolerance – in favour of their ethno-religious, parochial, Ulster-Protestant nationalism.

I would like to express my British cultural identity, so I would make one last request to Mr Nesbitt: when referring to cultural expression, stop using the term 'British', when you really mean 'little Ulster'.

IAN JAMES PARSLEY

Alliance Party

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