In the last few years we're all watching northern politics a bit, and people in the south have become much more familiar with unionism.
I've been going back and forth to Belfast from Clare for a very long time now, so have a bit of an insight into unionists, but not overly familiar with unionist thinking on many things to be fair, and I try to steer away from controversial issues with them.
But what's really striking me over the last few years is how constantly unhappy unionism is. They're always disappointed with something. Just in the last few years they've been against the Irish language, gay marriage and the protocol. These are all potentially things that would improve quality of life in the north, but they don't care, they just fight them anyway.
What I wonder is how the hell did they get here, into a situation where they are permanently trying to stop things. Many of the leaders like Sammy Wilson and Donaldson seem really sour.
How can this continue, surely there are people from this background who aren't always angry or against things, and would like to live a happier life. It can't be good to be living like that, constantly angry and trying to prevent things changing.
How can this continue, surely there are people from this background who aren't always angry or against things, and would like to live a happier life.
There are but moderate unionists always get shouted down by extreme ones
I think it’s a symptom of them constantly feeling under siege. I can’t help wonder if some of them secretly yearn for the bad (good ?) old days when the IRA were active and pretty much everyone could agree that they were the bad guys. Not saying Unionists enjoyed living in effectively a war zone, but politically, things were so much more straightforward for them then.
A situation they created by the manner in which they treated nationalists/catholics. You can't oppress a people and not expect blow back.
TBF, the minority shouty ones need to be up in arms and acting under siege to play to their base.
I find the same thing with wasps.
If they feel threatened in any way they sting.
A lot of the miserable attitude stems from a biblical viewpoint where most things considered fun by most people are instead thought of as sin. Even folks who don't go near a church are still affected by this methodology as it's handed down from generation to generation.
A small example was the very common practice of wrapping swings round the swing frame on a Saturday night so kids couldn't play with them on Sunday. The practice is now rare but the thinking behind it is not.
Ally that way of thinking to an attitude that genuinely can't understand any validity in a viewpoint that is different. The thinking is "I and my forefathers have it sussed, what I do is correct, you also need to do this and you will be correct also. It is my mission to make you see this".
Also don't underestimate the effect on mental health that living for 30 years in a country where most days someone was shot or something was blown up has. It was not a fun time.
I think the attitude stems from them not being the lord and masters that they once were and have seen the power diluted. The impression that I think they give is that they want to go back when the unionists ruled the province even down to restricting voting to nationalists/catholics.
I am sure the majority of unionists are moderate in their views but some would put you in mind of this song by Dick Gaughan. He did a brilliant version of the song in Whelan's one time.
Pastor Jack Glass was a rabbit anti-catholic preacher from Glasgow and as he song says it was hard to know if he believed in heaven as all he talked about was hell.
People who claim to be 'British' having to live in Ireland amongst the Irish tends to cause that dourness; the gnawing realisation that no matter what happens there's not a damn thing they can do about it. Unionists are a people without a country, whose culture is based on long-gone supremacy of the 'natives', 'natives' who are gradually taking over the running of the place that they once dominated.
I dunno , I think a lot of people's opinions are based on what the media portrays without really having any interaction or little or no contact with individual unionists.
My own experience is a little different, years ago my parents became friends with two unionist couples ( in the 70s )after meeting them on holidays ,I never knew them as anything other than family friends, my parents regularly travelled up north attending their kids weddings etc and vice versa , one òf the couples attended my wedding.
One of them attended my mother's funeral two years ago driving down from the north on **** winters day with his adult daughters.
In b4 the resident unionerzzzzz come in to tell us that they are perfectly happy. And if they aren't happy, well that's because it's definitely Irelands fault.
"Lunar South is Solar East" - W. B. Yeats
Moderate unionists don't get shouted down, they get less votes.
Bending reality to suit your viewpoint is wierd.
Which is still very much a part of the UK. Very good of the virulent Nationalists to help Unionists to run the place for the British, eh?
Part of Ireland currently under UK jurisdiction, we're keeping the place tidy in preparation for the unification of our country. 😉
20 year tidy up. Seems a bit odd to be doing the very thing that being totally opposed is the core of your belief system, supposedly. But sure its all just around the corner. Give it another 20 maybe and remember the Home Rulers only spent 80 years hoping their ship would come in 😂
Partly the siege mentality, I guess (who can blame them? They've been under armed siege for centuries), and the sort of religious conservatism that informs some sections of Unionism is dying out as well.
20 year tidy up.
Unionists have been a majority for the guts of the 100 years that the north of Ireland has been an utter sectarian basket-case, when it was the only self-governing UK jurisdiction it had the worst poverty and health rates in all of the so-called 'Union' until it was rescued by the welfare state that unionist refused to fund. Let's see how it gets on from now on when the back of belligerent unionism has been broken.
Seems a bit odd to be doing the very thing that being totally opposed is the core of your belief system
No skin off my nose if the English want to pay for the north's upkeep while we prepare for unification, it's the least they could do after several hundred years of disastrous misrule in Ireland.
Ian Paisley condemned line dancing as lustful and sinful. Line dancing.. LINE f*ing DANCING!!
Cromwell banned Christmas. All you need to know right there. Unionism traces its roots to this sort of miserable Puritan sh*te from the civil war years.
Coming from a Unionist background, I've long thought that Catholics and Nationalists just seemed on the whole to be a bit happier, more content in general and more fun. More than that, though there doesn't really exist any sort of Unionist culture outside of burning other people's flags, commemorating a battle from nearly 350 years ago in the most toxic and obnoxious way possible and shoving their absurd beliefs down other people's throats.
Previous Unionists in the North at least knew they were the hegemons and acted reasonably shrewdly to maintain it with a large degree of success. I've seen Paisley Sr. speak and get why people would idolize him. Paisley Jr. is just a grubby little maggot who took money from the Sri Lankan government for "favours".
It's gas. They've completely failed to make any sort of intellectual case for Unionism beyond hating gays and "Ulster says No!" If I had a vote in reunification, I don't know how I'd cast it but I've no idea what the United Kingdom is for with regards to Northern Ireland's role and place in it any more. There is nothing in Unionism for young people after the DUP scuppered their chance to have a Brexit of their own making. They've done more than Sinn Féin and the IRA to kill it, that's for damn sure.
Show me a god that does not demand mortal suffering. Show me a god that celebrates diversity, a celebration that embraces even non-believers, and is not threatened by them. Show me a god that understands the meaning of peace. In life, not in death.
I can't remember which commentator said it, but is there a slight educational deficit now? Nationalists weren't guaranteed most of the "good jobs" in the old days so further education was encouraged and pushed more on them by their parents. Then manufacturing globalised and with it a lot of these good jobs.
I've a good friend who's a successful businessman (from the south) who's set up in county Antrim. The circles he moves in are with people from across religious divides but the theme among these people is that they are ambitious and educated. Most are ambivalent to unionism or Nationalism. But all recoil at the thoughts of the DUP.
I don't know where Unionism is going but it's not going back to what it was that's probably where the rump of the unhappiness is. The ones bleating loudest now are probably still in the early stages of grief while most of the province has moved on. They've been let down to some extent by the London (which hasn't been strongly unionist for some time) but find it very very hard to point the finger in that direction. That sort of betrayal mixed with denial would mess with anyone's head in fairness. So they're going to lash out.
Yeah, unionism seems very, very dour and unhappy, and even their arguments for a union with the UK seem to be negative ones about the Republic of Ireland. So many of its public figures always seem unhappy and even bitter, Jim Allister, Arlene Foster, Nigel Dodds, Gregory Campbell, Jamie Bryson, Edwin Poots are all like this. I've no doubt this doesn't reflect all people from a unionist background, but this angry, bitter mood seems to be a requirement for unionist public figures.
Its more than slight and its getting worse for unionists.
"FSM" in this document/context means Free School Meals, so the less well off - the gap is even starker for those.
I have read, somewhere which I now can't find, that there are proportionally tiny numbers of unionist background trainee solicitors, junior doctors, trainee teachers and so on across professional/educated roles.
Very interesting @L1011. Thanks. It's nice to see the detail rather than going on hearsay.
I don't for a minute think structured education is the be all an end all when it comes to broadening ones mind. What's important though is to equip people with the skills to think and learn for themselves. If it's not through structured education then you would hope it would be attained via socialising yourself outside a very small peer group through through both work and play but it's less inclined to happen.
For the record: Like a lot of commentators. who don't really help matter, I'm not proposing any particular solutions 😀. It's just an observation I was making.
Costing the mainland a fortune I believe ;)
The stereotypical difficult, crabbit unionist was satirised by well by Harry Enfield as William Ulsterman.
I think the unhappiness stems partly from strict puritanical religious background. Partly from the fact that it is not a positive political position but a list of things that they oppose.
The fact that the future is pessimistic for their way of life. People are less religious, supporting the monarchy is a bit silly. They will never have the power and control they had in the early days of the creation of Northern Ireland.
It is sad really, the fact that extending rights and co-operating with your neighbours on this island is seen as a bad and a terrible thing from their perspective.
You can't really blame them for being unhappy, though. Their ancestors went over for a cushy life at the expense of the natives and now they can't have that. They were supposed to receive preferential treatment but now they have to compete on an equal footing with a native population that's better educated than they are. They remember a time when all they had to do to land a job was to have the right name. That's mostly gone now. They used to be the masters in a province that was more affluent than the southern wasteland of genetically inferior papists but now they're barely in charge of a region that can't sustain itself economically.
If I were them, I'd be annoyed too and if I were a cynical politician, I would play up to that.
Presbyterians are naturally dour folk, their cousins in Scotland are the same