Nationalism riddled with hypocrisy

Ulster election: Republican joins old foe as assembly is burdened by the past and search for a home; Conor Cruise O'Brien explains why he is running as a UK Unionist

I was brought up in an Irish nationalist tradition but from the advent of the Provisional IRA offensive in 1971, I became increasingly aware that the position of constitutional nationalists, with regard to political violence, is riddled with unconscious hypocrisy.

Nationalists condemned political violence, but regularly used it to convince the British of the need for concessions. Thus, the Anglo-Irish Agreement was sold to Margaret Thatcher in 1985 as being about "to marginalise the men of violence" by reconciling the nationalists to the status quo. There was not a soul in Ireland who ever really believed that, but Mrs Thatcher bought the line, thus infuriating the unionists; and this was the object.

After 1985, things got worse. John Hume and Gerry Adams began the insidious alliance between constitutional nationalists and Sinn Fein. Hume-Adams was sold in the nationalist press as bringing about the conversion of Sinn Fein-IRA to the democratic process. What happened was to a contrary effect. Sinn-Fein-IRA succeeded in converting democratic process in the Republic to its own use.

Irish government statements, and those of senior government officials, are couched in language acquired from Sinn Fein. This is not just rhetoric. The relevant people are now imbued with the spirit of Sinn Fein: paranoid distrust of the British, hatred and contempt for the unionists. Senior public servants revealed this month that the Irish government's objective, in negotiating with the British, is to "drive David Trimble wild".

Nobody in the Republic, except myself, seemed to see any objection to this version of the Peace and Reconciliation at which all the nationalist parties profess to aim.

This account may give you an idea as to why I reject Irish nationalism - now dominated by Sinn-Fein-IRA - and have become a unionist. I believe the more gains there are for what Adams calls "the Irish peace process", the nearer Ireland will get to civil war. Adams's peace process is a pincer-movement on the unionists. One pincer is the IRA's cat-and-mouse violence and related blackmail. The other is Irish pressure on the British to move down the nationalist agenda. If there is any serious movement in that direction, the loyalist ceasefire will break down.

When Bob McCartney invited me to be a candidate for the United Kingdom Unionists, I accepted without hesitation. He is the ablest as well as the most amiable of the unionist leaders. His party not only has no links with sectarian groups but is explicitly committed to anti-sectarian policies. His party is offering the unionist community leadership of exceptional high quality. They will need that, under the pressure of those pan-nationalist pincers. I am proud to be able to give them a hand in resisting, by democratic and peaceful means, a version of Irish nationalism that has turned into something very like imperialism.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
people
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Sport
football
News
i100
News
Perry says: 'Psychiatrists give help because they need help. You would not be working in mental health if you didn't have a curiosity about how the mind works.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?