Do you remember David Trimble's oh-so-revealing description of the South as a "pathetic, sectarian, mono-ethnic, monocultural state"? Revealing because it displayed more about him and Unionism than it did about the Republic. Poor Trimble couldn't even see that the central objective of unionists has been to maintain a sectarian, mono-ethnic, monocultural state. Most call it Northern Ireland. Some unionists call it 'Ulster' to establish stricter ownership of the place.
Does this objective go part of the way towards explaining the growing incidence of racist attacks in unionist districts? A fortnight ago in the Irish News the Chief Constable remarked that most racist attacks took place in unionist areas. He was talking about people being expelled from their homes. In fact this form of assault seems to have happened exclusively in unionist districts: the Village, Cullybackey, Antrim, Portadown, Craigavon, parts of Dungannon. They have been directed against among others, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Filipinos, Portuguese, Nigerians, a Lithuanian and a Swede.
So, clearly it's not just about black people or Asians. Why?
The North is one of the whitest places in the world. The 2001 census showed a mere 16,000 people from 'ethnic minorities'. So the North is 99 per cent white, something which seemed to escape our great sociologist Trimble. It was even whiter a decade ago but, since the IRA Ceasefire, there has been a sudden increase in numbers of black and Asian people in the North.
The great majority came here legitimately to work in the health system, catering and agricultural spin-offs.
Like all immigrant groups they tend to congregate. Most of the new workers found accommodation in decaying working-class unionist districts because that's where the vacancies are, whereas there's a shortage of accommodation in nationalist districts. As a result, people living in these unionist districts experienced sudden change to their neighbourhoods and they didn't like it. Nor did the loyalist gangs who control the districts.
Remember, the North was devised and donated to unionists by the British Government as the largest chunk of Ireland they could control.
The very nature of the place, therefore, means unionists need to remain a majority in it. Traditionally intolerant of Catholics expanding into Protestant areas in case they undermined that electoral majority, unionists certainly weren't going to welcome any other group who might change the Protestant/unionist monocultural nature of a district.
There's a more sinister aspect to the intolerance however. At the extreme end of the unionist mindset is a set of beliefs linked to racial superiority.
It's manifest most clearly in the British-Israelite sect who believes that the 'British Race' is one of the lost tribes of Israel. The late MP for South Belfast, the Reverend Robert Bradford, was an adherent of this cult. Members of Tara, a weirdo loyalist paramilitary group in the 1970s, run by Kincora paedophile William McGrath, also subscribed to these nutty ideas.
These notions of 'racial' superiority, daft as they are - as if there's a British race any more than there's an Irish one or a French one - nevertheless slot into the thinking of the BNP (British National Party) and the White National Party which have both been recruiting in unionist districts. Such groups - and the Nazi Combat 18 - have long worked to develop links with loyalist terrorist groups, especially the UDA, some of whose members have always been attracted to fascism and racism.
Indeed, in recent years, Combat 18 people had high hopes of Johnny Adair's so-called C Company.
Given that background and the belief constantly repeated by unionist politicians that change can only be bad for unionists, it looks as if racist assaults by unionists will continue to increase in frequency.
New people, new cultures, all bring change. Unionism as a credo has never been able to countenance change or difference. Unionist leaders see it as a threat to the one great fact they must maintain, a majority. It used to be the threat to their majority was easily recognisable - Fenians. They knew how to deal with them.
Unfortunately, they seem to have transferred these skills to 'dealing' with newly arrived Muslims, Hindus and people of no religion. They just have to be 'different' to qualify for assault and expulsion.
Mind you, while it's easy to provide a quasi-political explanation for the racism inherent in unionism, let's not forget that the Republic has just passed by 80 per cent a constitutional amendment to prevent people born in Ireland automatically becoming Irish citizens. Furthermore, never a day passes without an assault on a black or Asian person in Dublin, and Gardai have as poor a record of conviction as the PSNI.
Ah sure, it's a great island altogether, North and South.