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DUP's hardline brand of 'strong unionism' could end up destroying the Union in the longer term

 

The DUP have for decades branded themselves as the best-placed party to protect Northern Ireland's place within the United Kingdom. I think there is serious reason to doubt this, given their strategy of exploiting division to further their own electoral advances. I believe their strategy to be seriously damaging to the long-term securing of the Union.

The DUP have for a long time campaigned on the brand of 'strong unionism'. While this is extremely popular with the unionist electorate, I firmly believe this is against the interests of the unionist cause. It is extremely unpopular and inflammatory to the nationalists of Northern Ireland. Whether the DUP accept it or not, nationalists are crucial to the whole unionist idea.

Amid the collapse of Stormont in January, DUP communities minister Paul Givan took the divisive decision to withdraw funding from the Liofa Irish language project to gain unionist support in the middle of the RHI scandal.

This caused widespread outrage among nationalists and republicans and irritated many who had not voted in 20 years to go and vote. March's Assembly election campaign saw a very divisive brand of unionism offered by the DUP, which ultimately provoked a surge in the Sinn Fein vote.

Unionists who genuinely want to preserve our place in the UK should think twice before opting for this 'strong unionism' at the ballot box as it is not what it appears. It could cost us our future in the Union.

JAMIE KENNEDY

Shrigley, Co Down

Belfast Telegraph

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