Originally published in Volume IV, Issue 1 on 19th September 1997 by Katherine O’Callaghan.
Trinity students have been nailing their colours to the mast and announcing themselves to be “West Brits and proud.” The Independent Unionist Association, the only student unionist society south of the border, is beginning its campaign to recruit new members. The chair and founder Mr. David Christopher (19) hopes to double the numbers already involved. Mr. Christopher is not of Unionist descent and is from Athenry but he does not mind being called a West Brit as he sees it as “a badge of honour.” The DUIUA was set up last year and was recognised by the Trinity societies committee in April of this year. Currently the membership rests at ten and includes Trinity staff members. There will be a stand for one, or maybe two days during the Trinity Freshers’ week with information available. The society also hopes to hold some debates during the year with one in the first term examining sectarianism.
Asked whether the society might spread to UCD, Mr. Christopher replied: “There is always hope. It is a matter for the future.” He would definitely encourage, help and support anyone attempting to set up a similar society in UCD. He also hopes that the society will eventually spread beyond universities: “There is still a residue of support for Unionism in the South though it has not been politically active since 1920. I would say that approximately 1% or 2% of the population would agree with my view.” Mr. Christopher feels that more would speak out if they didn’t feel so intimidated.
The society claim to be “liberal unionist”, (they would have problems with the ‘not an inch’ attitude of some Unionists). They are looking for an entrance into commonwealth and a return to Home Rule. They are also seeking British passports for Irish citizens who wish to be British. Mr. Christopher says that the Irish should view the terms ‘Irish’ and ‘British’ as being contradictory. He justifies this statement by saying: “If you look at old maps you can see that Ireland is called ‘Little Britain’. Then it was simply a geographical term, and it should be seen as such still.” He does not differentiate between Irish and British culture claiming that he has “more affinity with Britain.”
Mr. Christopher sees Unionism as having a very important role in the new pluralistic Ireland. He says that President Robinson epitomises this new diversity of opinion with her attitude towards the commonwealth but admits that she would not agree with the majority of his society’s opinions. Christopher says that entering the Commonwealth would be a “gesture of peace to the Unionists” who feel they are not being listened to and are losing out. He feels that those south of the border need to be educated so as to understand Unionism and its aims as he feels there is a very anti-British feeling in the Republic and too much Brit-bashing.
The society has received death threats by computer but Mr. Christopher was reluctant to give details as he says the matter is being dealt with.