Perfidious Albion is more normally a fixture of Irish nationalist discourse. Yet history shows that it is direct rule, usually by Conservatives, which has traumatised the unionist psycheby Andrew McQuillan / November 21, 2017 / Leave a comment
It may seem counter-intuitive that the prospect of direct rule and further integration with the United Kingdom should engender wariness on the part of that most loyal tribe, Northern Irish unionists.
The seemingly inevitable slide towards direct rule following the failure to relaunch the Stormont institutions has been met with sanguinity by the Democratic Unionist hierarchy at Westminster. That the impending demise of devolution has been acknowledged with a shrug by most of the Northern Irish populace points to its failure to positively mark the collective consciousness.
Perfidious Albion is more normally a fixture of Irish nationalist discourse. Yet history shows that it is direct rule, usually by Conservatives, which has traumatised the unionist psyche; the abolition of majoritarian Stormont in 1972 led to Sunningdale, the Anglo-Irish Agreement and other events which caused reactionary unionism to fall into hysteric denunciations of Prime Ministers and Secretaries of State as “traitors” selling them out to Dublin.
Circumstances have of course changed, with the principle of consent placing the future of Northern Ireland in the hands of its citizens. Yet the point still stands that settler nationalism desires a bulwark; David Trimble once said unionism’s basic desire was simply “to be left alone.” The move to direct rule profoundly inhibits that reflex: the ease with which Stella Creasy compelled the Government to make it easier for Northern Ireland women to have abortions in England acts as a reminder that rule from Westminster can consign local politicians to irrelevance.