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The new unionism

Northern Ireland's recent violence reflects the "modernisation" of unionism

By E K   November 2005

The loyalist riots which convulsed Belfast this September brought a level of violence to the streets not seen since the height of the Drumcree conflict in the mid-1990s. Do they signify a new phase in the evolution of unionism?

The conventional wisdom, both in the media and among loyalists themselves, is that aside from the short-term factors relating to the re-routing of marches, the real reason for the violence is “Protestant alienation,” especially within the loyalist working class. This has been caused by de-industrialisation, unemployment and a sense of having been defeated by an increasingly self-confident nationalist community.

No one…

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