Writing in Friday's Belfast News Letter, East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said,
One hundred years on, Northern Ireland is completely different to the fledgling State that emerged from the early twentieth century during negotiations between British and Irish authorities.
Society has changed and attitudes to the change have altered also. Unionism has traditionally been an ideology steeped in a small 'c' conservative approach to life but with strains of both right-wing and left-wing advocates pressing for a more radical approach.
Public calls in recent years for a 'border poll' have increased as SF's electoral approach has taken on a more strident note. Those people who say the UK’s democratic decision to exit the EU is to blame for increased demands for a referendum are either in a state of denial or being misled. The demands were there and increasing before June 2016. The logic of their case would be that if Brexit had not been passed, demands for a border poll would either have reduced or stopped. Everyone knows that would not have been the case.
The NI Protocol is having a detrimental effect on a range of goods supplied here from GB for all our citizens irrespective of their political allegiance. From tractors to bicycles, from medicines to pets. Unionists and nationalists have been impacted. The implementation of the NI Protocol should have seen politicians from all sides seeking it's removal. The fact that this has not happened is testimony to the harsh reality that some in the political bubble are prepared to put their pro EU credentials before the greater good of all NI's citizens. The campaign to have the Protocol dealt with must be maintained and indeed increased in intensity.
Internally, Unionist politics is undergoing change of management styles. Commentators have worked themselves into a lather about this. Understandably they concentrate on personalities and 'unprecedented' events rather than the long-term strategic view which is far more fundamental. The bigger picture and direction of travel is what really counts.
At the start of this year, I released a new year message where I stated:
"For the last half century, it has been fear that has driven much of the earlier violence and continuing distrust here".
Fear of abandoning values and core principles within Unionism is also something that has eaten within. NI needs a confident Unionism, embracing not abandoning those core values, while at the same time ensuring that others who don't share them, see they are not a threat to anyone’s future.
We have to include rather than exclude.
Some who dwell in a pretend world might wish it were different but here in the real world that’s the way it is.
The farmer ploughed with horses when that was the best way to do so. The only place you see such skills now is at a vintage fair.
Unionism needs to embrace and adapt for the new demographic realities to maximise electoral support for the Union.
Everyone needs to feel at home in NI within the UK.