Editorial - Unsteady ground

For decades following Partition political unionism was a monolith ruling over the North with an iron grip.

From the late 1960s onwards, in parallel with the rise of the civil rights movement and a rejuvenated nationalism, the unionist monolith began to splinter and fracture as its grip on political control loosened.

Firstly it was the split which led to rivalry between the Ulster Unionist Party and Democratic Unionist Party, then smaller unionist groupings split from these parties muddying the waters even further.

While at times these splits and division were caused by individual political ambition and personality clashes, the broader picture tells a story of a loss of confidence within unionism.

The near implosion of the Ulster Unionist Party in recent weeks with resignation following resignation is a further example of the sense that unionism is losing its ground.

The recent lurch towards unionist unity will not turn the tide which, in reality, has been going out for the last 40 years.

It should be abundantly clear to everyone that there will be no return to the days of one party dominance and any ill-advised attempt to build a power block based on a siege mentality is certain to fail.

Instead political unionism should seek to build new a relationship with nationalism and republicanism; a relationship built on equality and respect for difference.

This can only be achieved through dialogue a process of dialogue, something unionism has been reluctant to engage in in the past. but by now must realise is unavoidable.