The politically bankrupt nature of nationalism was never more evident than in the recent letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
The two hundred people who co-signed the letter demanding that the Irish Government support and champion nationalists in Northern Ireland could have done so 60 years ago when the old Nationalist Party absented itself from Stormont just as Sinn Fein has done from the Assembly.
Nationalism, Irish or British, never blames itself, never questions its actions nor reflects on its own behaviour. In the world of nationalists and nationalism someone else is always at fault . So it is with the content and tone of this letter.
Sinn Fein collapsed the Executive, forced an election and ever since have presented excuse after excuse for their failure to form a new Assembly.
Undermining the principle of consent The ‘200 Letter’ mirrors exactly the Sinn Fein agenda. It presents an extremly narrow version of events and a dangerous one at that.
While claiming to seek to protect the Good Friday Agreement it callously undermines one of its main cornerstones – the principle of consent. It points to the outcome of the EU referendum and argues that it will ‘reinforce partition on this island’. The Good Friday Agreement confirmed the constitutional position of both parts of this island and that was endorsed by the vast majority of citizens in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Nationalism is not only a backward political philosophy : it is a toxic one. It seeks to divide and exploit difference. It blames others and otherness. It is a political cancer that deliberately subverts progressive politics and invariably is home to the worst examples of native gombeen men and women.
Very few of the two hundred signatories to this letter have been to the fore in the struggle to defend public services, fund education, secure the NHS, stand up for workers rights, oppose zero hours contracts or campaign for a real living wage. Fewer still, for all their alleged concern about a rights based society, have publicly sought the right of women in Northern Ireland to make their own decisions about their own bodies.
Contempt and disdain Given that not one of the two hundred signatories could bring themselves to say ‘Northern Ireland’ in this letter shows the contempt and disdain they are happy to display in pursuit of these narrow, exclusive and dangerous objectives.
The immediate priority for Northern Ireland is the restoration of the Assembly and the Executive. But that would mean no hiding place for the failed and failing politics of nationalism.