I can't bring myself to vote DUP because I do not feel threatened by nationalism, or republicanism
Arlene Foster is asking for my vote as part of her effort to corral all unionist voters into a laager, or redoubt, against all the forces she feels are threatening us. But let me explain why I cannot bring myself to vote DUP.
The DUP have re-embarked on 'Project Fear', albeit with a softer face and voice. But I, for one, do not feel threatened by nationalism, or republicanism.
I am confident in my identity and politics and in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. I do not believe they are under the level of threat that the DUP keeps telling us they are. If there were a border poll tomorrow, it would reaffirm the desire of a significant majority of people to remain part of the United Kingdom.
The type of unionism which the DUP espouses is simply not what I believe in.
I aspire to a unionism which is decent, pluralist and inclusive - that is, open and welcoming to people of all faiths and none. A unionism where anyone who supports the Union can feel comfortable and accepted - including our Catholic neighbours. I'm afraid that is not the DUP.
The social policies which the DUP espouses are also far removed from the type of society I believe in. I could never vote for the narrow, reactionary, backward-looking, social conservatism of the DUP, who seem to pride themselves on being disrespectful to anyone who disagrees with them. Moreover, if you scratch a few of the DUP's elected members, old-fashioned sectarian attitudes lurk just below the surface. I can hear their outraged denials, but if the shoe fits ...
I am also a non-believer and do not want religion mixed with politics - nor do I want politicians to force religious beliefs down my throat. Whatever way you look at it, the DUP still comes at many issues from that perspective. Finally, some of us have not forgotten their irresponsible actions in relation to the flags protests. But that shouldn't come as a surprise when their behaviour towards the Parades Commission is considered.
Bangor, Co Down