My late friend David Trimble saved unionists from having joint authority imposed on them because he fought nationalism, constitutional and violent, intelligently and imaginatively — despite the attacks from his own side.
Published: 30 August 2022
He also benefited from help from people with nationalist backgrounds, whether they were journalistic opponents of the IRA or Bertie Ahern, the Irish Taoiseach, who came to see the unionist point of view precisely because Trimble — unlike Gerry Adams — was an honourable man of his word.
Arlene Foster, one of his successors as first minister, who like him was de-fenestrated by hard liners, is looking to enlist positive, open-minded unionists to make the case to doubters and sceptics for staying in a union that welcomes democrats of all races, creeds and opinions.
She is one of those involved in forming the ‘Together UK Foundation’ “to push back against the narrative that an independent Scotland or a ‘united’ Ireland is inevitable”.
She has been partially inspired by the need to counter organisations like ‘Time for Unity’ and ‘Ireland’s Future’ which seek to sap unionist confidence by pretending that a united Ireland is inevitable by spreading the misconception that unionists are deluded and the false concept of unionism will disappear magically in a united country.
The foundation will be facilitating discussion throughout the UK and seeking to engage the Westminster government pro-actively — an approach that is likely to attract the new prime minister, should that be Liz Truss.
As we all know, Sinn Fein/IRA’s magnificent and totally unscrupulous propagandists have for years been successfully demonising the men and women who made up the vast majority of such fine organisations as the RUC and the UDR.
They saved Northern Ireland from civil war, but the people who extol their murderers denounce them as sectarian bigots.
But although they have done a fine job of spreading lies and misunderstanding, Sinn Fein they will not win that war.
Time is on the side of the good people. There are, for instance, very few professional historians who see the history of the last century through Sinn Fein eyes. The more research that is done into the past, the more Sinn Fein/IRA lies are exposed.
At last unionists are realising that they need to counter the republican narrative by telling their own stories — a truthful narrative that tells what actually happened and shows how brave people resisted terrorism while sticking to the rule of law.
There is plenty of young talent challenging Sinn Fein disinformation.
Now one of the penalties of being a journalist that you need to keep an eye on Twitter, even if you hate it. Apart from its merits in keeping one up with the news, I greatly appreciate its capacity to introduce me to people of whom I wouldn’t otherwise have heard who used the medium to inform and discuss Irish history and politics.
Take, for instance, the tweeter @Sage_Opinion (whose handle is Adjacent Possible), who describes what he tweets about as “Looking beyond the kaleidoscope. Terrorism, propaganda, geopolitics and more.”
He is tremendously well-informed, literate and witty. I liked, for instance, his tweet apropos the latest politically-correct lunacies about non-binary police hats: “As Mark Steyn would say, the UK is now the place where everything is policed except crime.”
He also tweets as @SageDespatches, linking to a fascinating blog (https://sagedespatches.wordpress.com/).
Those interested in challenging Sinn Fein and fellow-traveller lies about the RUC will find a treasure trove there, most recently in his (so far) 15-part series ‘The Collusion Delusion’.
And also not to be missed is @shaneodoherty, the repentant terrorist, who writes an equally devastating blog (irishpeaceprocess.org) about the IRA, who on twitter is pointing us to his latest explosive entry: “The GAA and the IRA — an Irish Love Story”.
Which leads me to a young and talented unionist tweeter, Richard Garland (@richardtgarland), who has built up a large following: he is more than a match for his republican opponents who employ abuse rather than reason as a weapon.
Garland, who is highly critical of GAA politics but is fair-minded, recently accepted an invitation to watch hurling at the East Belfast GAA club, which seeks to share their games with everyone. He tweeted of his enjoyment of the game and his appreciation of the club’s inclusivity.
A barrage of insults followed, from both sides of the divide, which he dealt with robustly.
And DUP MLA Emma Little-Pengelly, whose office he has just joined as an intern, defended him.
“Of course there will be different opinions, abuse on the basis of such is absolutely wrong and I’m deeply saddened to see this. Unionism was always a broad church. The only way forward is to remain as such. Have passionate views, debate them but end puerile abuse.”
That’s the way to win friends and influence people. Occupy the moral high ground that should have no place for the haters.
“The north has never worked and never will,” tweeted a Shinner. “You and the remnants of the Planter Cult have a vision of making it work so you can hold onto all that stolen land. But that’s a pipe dream, it’s permanently broken and only total and irreversible unification with Dublin will fix it.”
I think that’s what Sinn Fein call “reaching out”.