One hundred years ago, just under half a million unionists and loyalists signed the Ulster Covenant in protest against the third Home Rule Bill.
The anniversary of this event will be commemorated across the North this weekend and political analysts and pundits of all outlooks will theorise on what is means for us today.
It is often said that a week is along time in politics. If so, then 100 years must be a very long time indeed.
A century ago, unionists and loyalists mobilised in their thousands to protest what was, in reality, a limited measure of autonomy for a parliament in Ireland. And it was not only unionists in Ireland who protested. In towns and cities across England and Scotland workers, politicians and many others demonstrated to express their outrage against the prospect of any weakening of Ireland’s position within the Union.
Such an occurrence would be unthinkable today. The reality is that, by and large, people in England, Scotland and Wales are not overly concerned about territorial and constitutional issues in Ireland.
In 1912, unionists were assured of the support of thousands, if not millions, in resisting being ruled from Dublin.
Today, in 2012, with the economy in serious recession, modern day unionist politicians no longer enjoy the same degree of support from Great Britain. They are happy to accept million of pounds from Dublin to support cross-border projects and they do so with the full support of the majority of the unionist community.
Times have indeed changed.