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Yes, republicans enjoyed a very good election, but unionism has no reason to fear the future in Northern Ireland

I was born 20 years after the end of the Second World War, but I was not brought up to believe Germans remained the enemy, that I should fear them, or - even worse - hate them. So why, 23 years after the IRA ceasefires, do unionists still fear nationalists and republicans?

The reaction of unionists to today's politics looks and feels as if we are trapped in October 1994, still trying to work out if the terrorist campaign is really over. Even worse, our politicians seem to be caught in 1972, continually telling us the Union is in imminent danger, we must man the barricades, pull up the drawbridge and fight tooth-and-nail, otherwise all is lost.

Yet, if we were to step back and take a more realistic look at where we are, nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, Sinn Fein had a good election and, from many points of view, unionism a poor one. But, ultimately, it was only an election; it wasn't a border poll, nor was it a referendum. Nothing constitutionally has changed, nor will change. So, why all the angst?

Unionism, as usual, has confused the fortunes of our politicians with the future of the country. Arlene Foster is not Northern Ireland. She is a fallible politician who made some poor choices and has given even worse leadership. She has overseen the collapse of our Assembly- all for the want of a small amount of humility and contrition.

Now, due to her failure, there is little prospect of government being restored without further concessions to republicanism, without reciprocation.

However, none of this actually affects the Union. Thankfully, the Union remains in the hands of the people of Northern Ireland and not our politicians.

The Union is not under threat. Never forget the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum: Scotland remains in the United Kingdom and is set to be for years to come.

Unionism should never forget: one Assembly election does not a united Ireland make.

ULTONIAN

Portadown, Co Armagh

 

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