Unionism: 2022 & Beyond
Updated: Nov 7, 2022
This paper is issued by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. It is intended to help articulate our position and shape where we believe we need to go collectively as a Unionist community. After engaging with all Unionist parties, we continue to firmly believe that the future of Northern Ireland is best served when Unionists co-operate on matters pertaining to Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom.
We live in a world where the certainties of past generations can no longer be taken for granted. The electorate’s behaviour has changed and the once dependable Unionist turn out at elections is no longer assured.
Our future lies not in lamenting the past, but in adapting to the present and preparing for the future. We must never lose sight of the core principle of Unionism - that Northern Ireland should continue to be an integral and equal part of the United Kingdom.
The Ulster Covenant, the Ulster Volunteers and the sacrifice of the 36th (Ulster) Division paved the way for the creation Northern Ireland. Sir James Craig and the Stormont Parliament established and nurtured Northern Ireland. The Ulster Special Constabulary, Royal Ulster Constabulary and Ulster Defence Regiment defended Northern Ireland. By their collective efforts, the people of Northern Ireland, despite many trials and tribulations, have ensured that Northern Ireland has been a key part of the United Kingdom for 100 years.
It is incumbent that this, and future generations remember the achievements and loyalty of our forebearers. The most fitting way we can honour their legacy is to ensure that Northern Ireland remains within the United Kingdom. Whilst their spirit and example should drive us, our approach to the political challenges of today must be forward looking and relevant to this and future generations.
While we must be ever vigilant against the prospect of political terrorism, we assert that the main challenges to Unionism today arise from voter apathy in the short term, and the Northern Ireland Protocol in the longer term.
Each of us must ask ourselves this question: Is Northern Ireland’s future and our place within the Union important to me?
If the answer is ‘yes’, then everyone of us has a vital role to play and we all need to become advocates for Unionism at every opportunity.
Unionism – May 2022 NI Assembly Election
In order to overcome voter apathy, everyone who identifies as Unionist, regardless of all other subdivisions, has a responsibility to mobilise and maximise the Unionist vote.
No matter how frustrated someone is, no matter how let down they feel, there is no excuse for not voting. Your vote was dearly won and must never be wasted.
Some may ask, “Who do I vote for - they are all the same?”
Our response must be to highlight that there are a range of Unionist candidates standing and it is up to the voter to decide which one would best represents their views and vote accordingly.
The message is a simple one- if you don’t vote Unionist, that will be interpreted by Republicanism as a vote against Northern Ireland remaining in the United Kingdom.
Everyone needs to care enough to vote Unionist and persuade others to do the same. By all means hold those elected to account, especially on the key issues which impact us all - Heath, Education, the Economy and the local issues that impact you.
However, do not let the political disappointments of the past prevent you from playing your part in preserving the Union.
Unionism – The Danger of the Northern Ireland Protocol
The full impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol will not take effect for several years, but by then, it will be too late to repair the damage it will have caused to the Union. Unionists should only vote for individuals who have publicly opposed the Protocol and are committed to the removal of all checks it imposes on goods travelling within the United Kingdom for use within the United Kingdom.
The Protocol is in clear conflict with Article 6 of the Act of Union. Furthermore, it completely ignores the principle of consent and East – West relationship supposedly enshrined in the 1998 Belfast Agreement.
The Protocol sees Northern Ireland and its people remain subject to laws and regulations made by the EU. The sovereignty of the United Kingdom must be upheld - with none of its constituent parts subject to foreign laws.
Some may claim that the Protocol is working for businesses in Northern Ireland. In some cases, trade may have increased- especially with the Republic of Ireland as a result of Protocol and the realignment of supply lines. However, this short term financial gain for some, will be overshadowed by the long term financial implications for many others as we are increasingly separated from our most important markets in Great Britain.
Every democratic means available should be deployed to see the Protocol confined to history and there should be no return to Stormont whilst the Protocol related issues remain unresolved.
The benefits of the Union must be shared and promoted at every opportunity. The new communities who have chosen to live in Northern Ireland must experience and understand that Unionism is a broad church, in which support is welcomed from all quarters - reflecting the society in which we live.
Racism and sectarianism are not compatible with the Ulster Unionism, which is Democratic, Traditional, and Progressive. Unionism has and should continue to be able to embrace the politics of the left and right and reflect liberal and conservative voices.
Unionism - A Vision
We want to see a Northern Ireland secure in the United Kingdom, where political energies are focused on making this place work for the benefit of all its people.
A place where history is not rewritten, where there is no equivocation between victims and victim makers.
A place at peace with itself and with its neighbours.
Every Unionist to vote Unionist
Every Unionist to put Country before Party
Every Unionist voter to transfer their vote to other Unionists