Democracy, Accountability, and the Search for Peace; St Clair McAlister Topical Views on Politics
Byline: St Clair McAlister
Every columnist hopes that his, or her, written word will have some reaction from those who read it and that it might impart some knowledge, or even provoke some discussion.
This week it stirred Cecil Walker MP into action. He took time out to write a letter in response to my column. Read on Cecil - who knows? - You might just find out what the vast majority of the unionists feel about the Belfast Agreement.
Is it not a strange irony that those who are most critical of anti-Agreement Unionists are the same people who tell us that there is no alternative to the Belfast Agreement.
It is my contention that those who unconditionally accept the so-called 'Good Friday' Agreement are the very people who lack vision and imagination and have no grasp on reality.
I find it quite remarkable that most of the media and the establishment has suspended all rational analysis of the Belfast Agreement in the "interests of peace".
It is no surprise that those who played their part in negotiating the Agreement are keen to protect it and themselves from any criticism. If we are to move ahead, we must not shy away from taking a fresh look at the nature of the institutions that have been established.
How often do we hear supporters of the Agreement defend it on its merits? Although that must be difficult, if not impossible, because merits don't seem to exist, in any event for unionists. More often than not, the Agreement's supporters revert to the mantra, "there is no alternative".
They seek to censure anti-Agreement unionists for being reactionary, but are incapable of looking beyond the narrow anti-unionist confines of present arrangements. The knowledge that they would have defended any Agreement reached, as the only possible outcome, compounds the absurdity of their position.
For anti-Agreement unionists to jump through their opponents hoops, by providing details of their alternative strategy, would be foolish for two reasons. Firstly, it would immediately be criticised by those who wish to defend the status quo out of narrow party advantage and secondly, it would inhibit creative thought about the nature of a future settlement.
What is important at this time, is not to spell out the details of any alternative, but to spell out the principles which will underlie it. …