IN LEGEND and history, those parts of the historic province of Ulster which we call Northern Ireland have always been different.
Lakes and bogs and forests formed a natural frontier, ancient earthworks a man-made barrier and much Irish folklore tells of Ulster's wars against the kingdoms of the South.
The Scottish element in Ulster is centuries older than the Protestant Plantations. After all, you can see Scotland from Antrim. There was a two-way movement across the narrow sea.
Like the North of England, the North of Ireland held out the longest for the Old Faith and the old ways against the Protestant Tudors.
Protestant and Catholic, Ulster was, and is, different. remember the Nationalist Austin Currie saying how Ulster Catholics and Protestants have more in common with each other than with co-religionists in the South.
Without the continued Union of Northern Ireland with Great Britain, there would have been esen worse conflict than had gone before.
You could say that selfdetermination in the North was a condition of selfdetermination in the South.
It was tragic that bigotry and suspicion prevented the Nationalist minority in the North from accepting the majority will as did the Southern Unionists in what is now the Republic.
Today the Union is the will, democratically expressed in elections, opinion polls and the official Border Poll of 1973 of nearly every Protestant and nearly every second Catholic.
Th e Belfast Telegraph 'Opinion Poll of October II gave 7 per cent of Catholics as "very satisfied" and 43 per cent of Catholics as "satisfied" with direct rule from Westminster.
Only a minority of the minority supports terrorism, although the IRA and Sinn Fein (IRA in mufti) exploit Catholic sentiment and folk memory while aiming at an all-Ireland socialist republic, "Cuban" rather than Catholic.
They deny the legitimacy of any government in Ireland other than the "Provisional Government" proclaimed in Dublin, as a revolutionary act, in the rising of Easter 1916, and the Republic is perhaps the more at risk.
The IRA is hostile to the Catholic hierarchy which condemns their atrocious campaign. The IRA rebuked the Pope when he told the Irish that "murder is murder". The late Cardinal Lonway said that "they spit :n the face of Christ."
Irish terrorists persevere in the hope that they will wear down the democratic will. They are encouraged by those who cry "Troops Out" — which means the utterly dishonourable expulsion of loyal citizens from the United Kingdom.
Co-operation with the Republic against what Dr FitzGerald calls "the common enemy" is vital.
I am the only Conservative to testify before the New Ireland Forum. The Forum acknowledged Unionist aspirations which rule out United Ireland by consent. But many Unionists share with Nationalists a sense of Irishness.
When she won the Rugby Triple Crown, the Unionists News Letter in Belfast gave three editorial cheers for Ireland.
Our peoples are mingled in both islands. The "unique relationship" (Mrs Thatcher's phrase) between the Republic and the United Kingdom is more intimate than any which exists in the Commonwealth, to which both used to belong, and the Community, to which both belong.
Let us build an even closer partnership. It could be given the felicitous acronym IONA (Islands of the North Atlantic) — sacred in its symbolism, modern in its realism.
That's something for the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach to talk about.
It is thus that Ireland may be united.