As some Unionists have recognised, Britishness doesn’t require the Act of Union. Likewise, Nationalists are Irish with or without a Republic. What the Good Friday Agreement represents is the end of the stalemate of bigoted politics. Instead, there is formal recognition of the legitimacy of both unionist and nationalist traditions.
Yet this also means that we are finally free to feel both British and Irish, since we need to drop our sectarian definitions of who we are: we are British and Irish people.
And any individual who can accommodate this mix should be voting for the Alliance Party. Its pluralistic vision can best serve the people. Not “moderate” Unionist and Nationalist politicians, who by definition are not, and cannot be, cross-community.
If we are to move forward together, and not “separate but equal”, then one must support Alliance. No need to abandon your British or Irish identity—just give your electoral voice to the inclusive, cross-community party.
[I sent this to several local and national newspapers. It was printed in a couple of them, including the Bangor Spectator. Eileen Bell told me that she found my remarks interesting.]