WRITING in a document from Jamie Bryson's Unionist Voice Publications, Kate Hoey revealed what keeps her awake at night: “There are very justified concerns that many professional vocations have become dominated by those of a nationalist persuasion, and this positioning of activists is then used to exert influence on those in power.”
Is there any truth in what she says? In part, yes. It is a truth universally acknowledged that over the past fifty years and more nationalists/Catholics in NEI have identified education as a route to a fuller life. There was a time when that ambition limited itself to an office job or maybe becoming a teacher.
More recently it’s clear that the fields of law, medicine and accountancy have indeed been flooded with nationalists who are respected in their field and who don’t hesitate to speak their mind, whether on issues within their profession or in wider matters.
Why did unionist/ Protestant families not similarly flood the professional market? Because of our history. If you were a working-class Protestant, you could feel assured that you’d get a job for life in the shipyards or in one of the big engineering firms. So education, while desirable, was not really necessary for you to find a secure livelihood. But now that the shipyards are gone and many of the big firms with them, young Protestant men find that avenue blocked, and it has yet to sink in that education is the road to development.
“I am increasingly concerned about where this might all lead, not just for myself, but for anyone affected in this region ... everyone knows where this atmosphere can end in a deeply contested society like this.” https://t.co/Hba16QE0RC— Colin Harvey (@cjhumanrights) January 12, 2022
Unfortunately, the tenor of Kate Hoey’s remarks is of the themmuns nature. Because themmuns are getting jobs within the professions – academic, medical, the law – we unionists/Protestants are in danger, because these people are in many instances “activists” for a united Ireland. It’s that old seesaw syndrome, zero sum. If themmuns are doing well, then that must be bad news for us, and vice versa. “Activist” isn’t the same thing as plotter or subversive, but there is a hint of both in the term. If we don’t look out, themmuns’ll take over.
It would be unwise, not to say stupid, to smirk at this unhappy state of affairs for Protestants/unionists. These aren’t some alien life-form that is in difficulty: these are our fellow Irishmen and women.
Far from rejoicing, we should be concerned about the difficulties they find themselves in, and help devise ways in which these difficulties can be eliminated.
The thing with Hoey’s take on this is that nationalists in the professions is all part of a master plan. Dear God, Kate – would you sit down and straighten your head? People study to become lawyers or academics or doctors because they want to be part of that profession, not because they have a masterplan that they and their colleagues, once prominently positioned, will take unionism by the throat and throttle it.
Jamie Bryson once confided in me that he was pursuing legal qualifications part-time. I commended him for his ambition and wished him well in realising that goal. I don’t know if he sees the irony in Kate Hoey’s comments, which seem to be critical of the improved professional status of nationalists rather than emphasising the importance of young unionists realising their full potential.
In all this, as in so much else, there’s Brexit. Britain’s move out of the EU was a huge mistake, something that’s becoming more evident by the day. Hoey is an ardent Brexiteer. What better way to distract public attention from that massive muck-up than by aiming a whack at our unionist/nationalist hornets’ nest?