I could begin at the beginning and describe the years of defending the Union against the encroachment of the nefarious powers that founded their every notion on the undermining of the Union. That invective is a little bit dated. It now feels a little bit ridiculous to me. Inevitably, I have one caveat. I remember Jim Molyneaux’s notion of quarantine very vividly. It was founded on the principle that democracy could only flourish in a situation that was proven to be free from the threat of violence. He was absolutely correct. In a QUB debate, I called him an acute politician for deciphering the importance of a new and proven democratic playing field, before concrete progress could be made. In the established political climate of the day, Durkan accused me of calling Molyneaux a ‘cute’ politician and through the guffaws of laughter (it was quite funny, to be fair), I rearranged my emphasis to centre on the ‘astute’ nature of Molyneaux’s analysis. He was a great leader and he allowed us to stay in his house in South Kensington as students. He said, ‘Cookstown, I am sure you would like a nightcap.’ I stupidly declined. I can understand the tumults and machinations that are currently occurring, as Molyneaux intimated that this might be the case, if significant efforts were not made to create a clean break from the past. He was a ‘cute’ politician. He was a legend.
But. That initial paragraph doesn’t tell the full story about the Union and me. In reality, when I was in the Unionist Party, I was on the far left. It was no problem under Molyneaux, as the Party once encompassed all ideological leanings. The idea of Unionisation, Worker’s Rights and a fair deal always centred on my dad. My father worked his whole life to provide for his family and, at politically sensitive times, like the UWC strike, he determined to continue working to provide for his family and the child who was about to be born. And then I was born.
I will always believe in fighting for a fair deal for everyone. It is a genetic trait. It is as important today as it was in 1974. There is no negotiation that is prefixed with the notion of immobility. There is always some movement and improvement that can be found, if the astute, the acute and the cute are fully engaged in the process.
This vision of Union should still unite us all.