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JPIMedia owner makes ‘nationhood’ plea as 12 weeklies merge online

David MontgomeryA publishing boss has urged one region of the UK to “assert its right to nationhood” after launching a new title to serve it.

David Montgomery, executive chairman of JPIMedia owner National World, has made the call after the launch of the Northern Ireland World website.

Traffic from a dozen of JPIMedia’s Northern Irish newspapers is now redirected to the new platform, although no print titles are affected by the move.

The site is edited by Valerie Martin, JPIMedia’s senior weeklies editor in Northern Ireland.

Mr Montgomery, himself a native of County Down, has now written a first-person piece for the title, in which he urged Northern Ireland to “seize the moment and boldly determine its own future”.

He wrote: “Northern Ireland has earned the possibility to take on the mantle of nationhood in its own right.

“This is not to deny either side in the argument over Irish Unity. Indeed, confident and competent governance of Northern Ireland as an independent entity supported by Britain, Ireland and Europe – a Switzerland of the North – may be the only route to finally resolving the Irish Question.

“If Irish unity is ever achieved it can only be with two equals – two nation states – coming together voluntarily. Otherwise it will be perceived by a vociferous minority as an annexation on the one hand and a betrayal on the other.

“The way forward, as it always has been, is to forget the past and treasure it instead.”

Mr Montgomery went on to urge politicians to “become statesmen and stateswomen unreservedly representing the whole of Northern Ireland and no other nation”.

He added: “NI is blessed with many things – an industrious and loyal workforce, a good quality of life for an expanding middle class, a growing diverse population and high standards of behaviour based in part on religious adherence. And, of course, the most distinctive scenery on the island of Ireland.

“What has changed is that more people are identifying less with being British or Irish and instead they proclaim being whole-heartedly Northern Irish.

“They identify with pride to be from a place apart that mainly by its own efforts is casting off the struggles and bitterness of the past.

“For Northern Ireland, at the start of 2022, a nation beckons.”

As a result of the title’s launch, the Ballymena Times, Ballymoney Times, Banbridge Leader, Carrick Times, Coleraine Times, Larne Times, Londonderry Sentinel, Lurgan Mail, Mid-Ulster Mail, Newstownabbey Times, Portadown Times and Ulster Star no longer retain their own dedicated websites.

The websites of the Belfast News Letter and Derry Journal are unaffected by the move.