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Alex Kane

Unionism at crossroads during final countdown to UK leaving EU

Alex Kane


Four weeks from leaving the EU and five months from Northern Ireland's centenary, unionism is yet again at a crossroads. Which direction it takes will decide whether there is even a Union to celebrate, writes Alex Kane

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Spotlight: PM Boris Johnson has faced mounting criticism regarding Brexit

Spotlight: PM Boris Johnson has faced mounting criticism regarding Brexit

Spotlight: PM Boris Johnson has faced mounting criticism regarding Brexit

To paraphrase Shakespeare, "When political sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions." A few weeks away from the UK's formal departure from the EU (and there's still no certainty about whether there'll be a deal) and five months from May 3 (May 3, 1921 was when Northern Ireland came into existence), unionism is confronted with a battalion of sorrows and challenges, all of which it must address and resolve if unionism - and Northern Ireland itself - is to survive. Here are some of the main ones.

Demographics. This is often assumed to mean the next census will, for the first time, indicate there are more Catholics than Protestants. I don't actually subscribe to the view that a Catholic majority, in and of itself, spells the end of the Union; although we can't ignore the fact that most electoral evidence suggests Catholics rarely vote for unionist parties.

But demographics is about much more than a crude headcount, it's also an important guide to the multiplicity of structures within a population.


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