Platform: Facing Up to Who We Are and What Matters to Us; Community Dialogue Comprises Sam Askin, Dominic Bryan, Anne Carr, Betty Carroll, Noreen Christian, Theresa Cullen, Roy Garland, David Holloway, Bernie Laverty, Brian Lennon, John Loughran, P J McClean, Norma McConville, Billy Mitchell, Michaela Mackin, Kay Nellis, Peter O'Reilly, Andrew Park, Chris O'Halloran, Elaine Rowan, Katie Rutledge

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), June 24, 2002 | Go to article overview

Platform: Facing Up to Who We Are and What Matters to Us; Community Dialogue Comprises Sam Askin, Dominic Bryan, Anne Carr, Betty Carroll, Noreen Christian, Theresa Cullen, Roy Garland, David Holloway, Bernie Laverty, Brian Lennon, John Loughran, P J McClean, Norma McConville, Billy Mitchell, Michaela Mackin, Kay Nellis, Peter O'Reilly, Andrew Park, Chris O'Halloran, Elaine Rowan, Katie Rutledge


We're heading into the summer and we're still divided. The IRA is accused of trying out new weapons in Colombia. The security forces are accused of ongoing collusion with loyalists.

Street violence continues.

Here, we list statements which people have made in the last year.

What do you think of them? Do you recognise yourself in any of them?

Which ones do you really disagree with and why? What important statements are missing?

1. UNIONISTS AND LOYALISTS:

WHAT REALLY MATTERS?

In the past, people felt good about being Ulster and British. Now a lot has changed: many think they are heading for a united Ireland, and feel their Britishness is threatened and almost wiped out. Others disagree. Some feelings and perceptions are:

A. A COLD HOUSE FOR UNIONISTS?

"I feel an outsider in my own country. I almost have to apologise for being British. I feel used and abused."

"We have the ridiculous situation that two Government Ministers won't even fly the flag of the country. Taking British symbols out of all public places denies the identity of Northern Ireland."

"Republicans are fantastic at telling us what we are. Why can't we choose what we are: isn't that what self-determination is supposed to be about?"

"Republicans talk about parity of esteem - for themselves. They want an amnesty for the "on the runs" but, when it comes to the security forces, all they want is inquiries. Where is the parity of esteem in that?"

"We're not responsible for what happened in the past. But we get a bad Press all over the world because of it."

"People talking about Northern Ireland being a cold house for unionists make it much more likely for it to become just that".

"I feel very secure in my British identity: Unionists who say their Britishness has been wiped out are talking nonsense."

"It's ridiculous to speak of discrimination against Protestants in policing: look at the proportions from different religions."

"We'd be better off admitting our past wrongs."

B. THE AGREEMENT: FOR AND AGAINST

"The Assembly has really strengthened us as unionists. In the past, if we were working class, we never had a voice. Now we do."

"The Agreement cannot survive without unionist consent: that's written into it."

"The Agreement is heading towards a united Ireland. How can I be a unionist in a United Ireland?"

"The Agreement was supposed to need cross-community support. But it obviously doesn't need our support."

"Republicans say the armed struggle is over. But the unarmed struggle goes on, including the greening of north Belfast as unionists are driven out."

QUESTIONS FOR UNIONISTS AND LOYALISTS:

l What does it mean to you to be British?

lIs Northern Ireland a cold house for unionists or not?

lHow does your identity make room for Irish nationalists?

2. NATIONALISTS AND REPUBLICANS: WHAT REALLY MATTERS?

A lot has changed in the past 30 years for nationalists. They hold five of the 10 seats on the Executive. Housing is controlled by the NIHE, not by local councils, nationalist flags fly in many areas in Northern Ireland. …

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Platform: Facing Up to Who We Are and What Matters to Us; Community Dialogue Comprises Sam Askin, Dominic Bryan, Anne Carr, Betty Carroll, Noreen Christian, Theresa Cullen, Roy Garland, David Holloway, Bernie Laverty, Brian Lennon, John Loughran, P J McClean, Norma McConville, Billy Mitchell, Michaela Mackin, Kay Nellis, Peter O'Reilly, Andrew Park, Chris O'Halloran, Elaine Rowan, Katie Rutledge
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