‘WHICH should nationalists prioritise,’ asked the most recent edition of BBC Ulster’s The View, ‘unity or reconciliation?’

Squinter thinks it’s an interesting question, but perhaps not for the same reason as The View. It’s an interesting question because Squinter’s parents and grandparents lived their lives in a place where reconciliation was not only absent, but was officially frowned upon; a place created on the back of a literal sectarian headcount that poured bleach on reconciliation’s very roots. Squinter in turn has lived his entire life never knowing what it was like to experience reconciliation, and he’s likely to die that way, just as his parents did.

And yet here’s BBC Ulster over a century later telling the descendants of the same Catholics whose heads were counted and deemed insufficient enough to cause the new Protestant government any real trouble that they’ve got to choose either unity or reconciliation. What didn’t occur at the Ormeau Avenue editorial meeting that came up with the ‘Unity or reconciliation?’ question is that one of the biggest reasons – perhaps the biggest of them – for wanting to end partition is a burning desire for the reconciliation that a statelet built on a sectarian headcount can by its very nature never arrive at.

Where would we be now if the BBC here had inquired even just a couple of times in the 50 years of one-party Protestant rule about the desirability of reconciliation? Who knows? What we do know – because we’ve learned it from the horse’s mouth in recent times – is that Ormeau Avenue was as much a bastion of Protestantism as Stormont was. Did BBC Ulster executives and staff worry about the effect on reconciliation of their chronic refusal to report on governmental bigotry and malpractice? Probably not, given that the “bloody Protestants” (a contemporary senior BBC exec’s words) in charge at Ormeau Avenue were having celebratory drinks in the boardroom on the Twelfth with the bloody Protestants running the place; the first lot determined to keep unreconciled and unreconcilable Catholics out of the news, the second to keep them out of jobs and decent housing.

Which might suggest that the question should now be asked of the unionist parties, ‘Which should unionists prioritise, the union or reconciliation?’ But what’s the point? We’re on the restless and excitable Friday afternoon of a union which has spent the long and painful partition week serially refusing to reconcile. A better question might be, ‘When will BBC Ulster apologise for the fact that it took English reporters to come over in the late-60s and do the job it refused to do?’

Desultory efforts were made as that 1921 sectarian headcount began to eat itself to dismantle the 50 plus one voting requirement that underpins the coming border poll, but there’s no more chance of that panicked scream doing any good as there is of reconciling republicans to a union which reconciled them only to a passion for ending it.

A demand for reconciliation in advance of a unity poll is in its own way a cynical attempt to rig the game. 50 plus one plus reconciliation. Just imagine: the union being saved by the very thing it cannot deliver.

The Nutts Corner mark of excellence

HOW the DUP are plotting to make you buy shite...

1. With Brexit, Britain ‘rolled over’ EU geographical indication (GI) legislation; ie they pasted the EU legislation on to their post-Brexit statute books, thereby quietly continuing to bend the knee to Brussels on it. It has done so with an absolutely humongous number of EU laws, but that's another Brexit success story.

QUALITY: New EU legislation will protext high-end artisan products like Limoges porcelain

QUALITY: New EU legislation will protext high-end artisan products like Limoges porcelain

2. What is the EU GI legislation? Well, it ensures that when you buy quality EU regional food and drink – Mozzarella, Serrano ham, Champagne, various German beers and so on – you can still be sure they are protected and authentic, not life-threatening keek labelled in a garage in Oldham by a bloke in a string vest. You could say this tug of the forelock to Brussels suits pro-Brexit Tories as they’re more likely to be quaffing sparkling wine and wolfing down specialist cold meats of an evening than a single-parent in a mouldy Sheffield flat who voted Brexit because it meant taking back control. Squinter couldn’t possibly comment.
3. Of course, talented artisans don’t just make specialist food and drink; they manufacture high-quality goods too and now the EU has produced new legislation to ensure they’re protected too. With the new legislation, you’ll be getting exactly what you’ve paid for if you’re in the EU and you buy, for example, a Limoges porcelain tea set, a Madeira embroidery tablecloth, a Solingen carving knife or a Carrara marble kitchen counter. As it currently stands, that legislation will apply in Our Wee Country, aka Our Wee Corner of the Single Market.
4. But in order to prove that they went back into Stormont on the back of powerful guarantees, the DUP triggered a vote on the legislation on Tuesday. They voted againstand lost, which they knew they would, but the vote indicated a lack of cross-community consent, which under Sir Jeff’s much-vaunted new guarantees, means the decision on whether the EU legislation will kick in here goes to London. And if your eyes have glazed over after reading that, let Squinter make it a little easier for you. If the EU legislation on manufactured products protection is not enacted here, that means that any buck eejit can make anything they want and give it whatever name they want. Think of it as a Nutts Corner Charter.