Open Letter (2)

Paddy McEvoy, Author and Teacher

Open letter to the leaders of the Northern Irish political parties, September, 2013 (page 2)

The UUP represents the traditional middle ground of moderate Protestantism. It is committed to the Union and should not be expected to deviate from that position. But the type of Unionism it represents need not be defensively strident, because it is more secure in its intellectual moorings, less shallowly Bible-based than the more politically muscular DUP. There are many reluctant DUP voters who could be attracted back to the middle ground, if they thought their votes would not be wasted, ground which the DUP is increasingly keen to occupy. The UUP, certainly in recent decades, has played an honourable part in Northern Irish politics, as has the SDLP, and there is no good reason why these parties shouldn't live to fight another day, and another....... But they will have to fight together, and on common ground. The existence of people in the DUP who advance Bible-based, Creationist ideas, (along with other fundamentalist 'moral' positions - as the fiasco concerning the age of the Giant's Causeway, and the abortion, gay, blood transfusion questions illustrated), makes an international laughing-stock of Northern Ireland, (except in some rarefied political micro-climates, particularly in Bible-Belt America). Such ghettoised mind-sets are the Achilles Heel of Northern Protestantism, a culture which on the one hand prides itself on representing Reformation, rationalist enlightenment in Ireland, while on the other...

And that brings me to the Alliance Party, which has been pivotal to the integration/reconciliation process in Northern Ireland. Everything that has emanated from this party has been good and decent and visionary; a legacy of the fair-minded people who set it up and have been attracted to it over the years.

The Alliance Party should occupy a key role in the tri-unity, the coalition of consensus which I am proposing here. If the electorate was apprised of the fact that the traditional voices of reason in Northern Ireland had the courage and the foresight, were prepared to put their traditional raisons d'etre on the back burner in the interest of good governance and of the purposeful reclaiming of the political and philosophical middle ground, it is my belief that votes would flood in for such a coalition. Goodwill would also flow in from the South, from Britain, from America, from Europe, from the world. The traditional hard-ball players of the DUP and Sinn Fein, must be made to realise that they have no uncontested right, god- nor man-given, to exercise power in Northern Ireland in perpetuity, and that they had better moderate their transports if they wish either to continue in, or to regain power automatically. Who knows, the DUP and Sinn Fein might even move closer together and provide an unlikely new alliance? Or might have to?

The Anniversaries which are upon us, of 1913; 1914-18; 1916, etc., should be seen for what they were, extremist gestures by extremist 'activists', who either got locked, or who locked themselves, in political cul-de-sacs; who never did consult the masses in any considered way; and whose tunnel-visioned, violence-based blunderings have plunged Ireland into chaos and division for a century. There is nothing to feel particularly exultant about, except in sectarian terms, in any of the big dates that are due for commemorating. But go through the motions we must, to appease the ghosts of our bigoted forefathers and their intransigent offspring, knowing all the while that the wiser angels of our nature must be listened-to and heeded, lest we go through another century of strife.

In the interests of real peace, and not for the purpose of just vain posturings, I appeal for mature leadership from leaders who truly love their native place, all of it, and who love their people, all of them.

The worrying rut which we are presently stuck in we can escape from. Generous gestures on marching, on flags and symbols, on parades, on integrated education would help.

Paddy McEvoy, Sept 2013