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The Unloved, Unwanted Garrison -
The Unionist Community in Northern Ireland

In a last message to his constituents as he lay dying of cancer in February 1990, Harold McCusker, Ulster Unionist MP for Upper Bann repeated what he had said in the House of Commons at the time of the ratification of the Anglo-Irish Agreement:

    I shall carry to my grave with ignominy the sense of injustice that I have shown to my constituents down the years when in their darkest hours I exhorted them to put their trust in this House of Commons, which one day would honour its fundamental obligation to treat them as equal British citizens.

These bitter words convey all the bafflement and frustration of a community which sees its history as one of defending Britain and British interests, yet has felt utterly rejected by the nation that created it. What is so sad is that whereas for the last seventy-five years, but particularly for the last twenty-five years Unionists have had doubts cast on their identity, have been vilified in the British media and academic worlds, have been ignored, have been isolated, have been told that Britain has no interest in Northern Ireland, have been treated politically different from the rest of the country, and have been subjected to fearsome terror and economic sabotage, they are still loyal and carry on political discussion to try and obtain equality of conditions with their co-nationals as if this was actually possible, that common sense would, in the end, prevail.

What has puzzled many Unionists is that often a new secretary of state for Northern Ireland is appointed who immediately makes enthusiastically pro-Unionist comments. Then suddenly, after a few weeks, it is as if the unfortunate man has been taken aside, to a small room, and been shown something or had something said to him which had the effect of altering his attitude.

[Source: Understanding Ulster
by Antony Alcock (1994)]

by Oui on Mon Nov 23rd, 2020 at 04:03:43 PM EST

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