One of the groups involved in the unionist ‘graduated response’ over parading has questioned whether it is working.
In July, one part of the UDA-linked UPRG — its west Belfast branch — formed part of a unionist group which announced a pan-unionist response along with the DUP, UUP, PUP and TUV.
At the time, the parties issued a joint statement saying that they would sever contact with the Parades Commission as the first stage of a ‘graduated response’.
Since then, the parties have pressed for the Secretary of State to set up an inquiry into parading in north Belfast but there has been little other evidence as to what their response might be.
There have been tensions between the UPRG’s west Belfast branch and other parts of the organisation in the capital.
An editorial in the South Belfast UPRG’s magazine, The Loyalist, said that “a graduated response has been made, which to date is being held as confidential. Of course we welcome any such development and hope that it is a success that is much needed but at the moment there is a lot of suspicion and doubt over the long term viability of this plan. Signing up to this in a Carsonesque type display might have got some extra TV minutes but it will mean nothing if the success isn’t there.”
A second article in the magazine, under the headline “Frustration grows at lack of effective and coherent ‘graduated response’” said there was uncertainty about what constitutes the unionist response.
It added: “In short, the current ‘graduated response’ looks limp, ineffective, poorly staged, lacklustre and ultimately incapable of achieving a radical victory.
“As the weeks and months pass by one thing is certain; momentum is being lost. The much publicised ‘unity of purpose’ that we so passionately hoped to see is slipping away.”
The article went on to say: “Stormont has long been known as dysfunctional but it is becoming more and more like a simpering poodle to the demands of Sinn Fein. The sooner we have a proper opposition the better. Stormont is clearly broken, physically and spiritually.”