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DUP councillor hits out at failed 'graduated reponse'

DUP councillor George Duddy
Staff Reporter

A leading Orangeman and DUP councillor has hit out at the failed joint unionist 'graduated response'.

Former mayor of Coleraine George Duddy, who is also the order's Coleraine district master, said unionists should have reacted more strongly to the north Belfast parades impasse.

In July last year, five unionist parties announced a "graduated response" in protest at Parades Commission restrictions on the Twelfth march in Ardoyne. But in December the TUV, UKIP and PUP left the joint unionist group.

As reported in the Coleraine Chronicle Mr Duddy told a Twelfth demonstration on Monday: "We should be seeing from our politicians an elevation of our ‘graduated response' to this ludicrous [Ardoyne] decision from the Parades Commission.

"However, I, like many of you standing here today, listened to unionist politicians from all the unionist parties bumbling their way through interviews when questioned about the graduated response.

"Why did they bumble? The answer is quite simple — there were no plans or strategies formulated for a graduated response. That is now very evident. Why was that? Because unionism is so fragmented they couldn't agree."

A DUP spokesman blamed the withdrawal of three unionist parties for the failure of the group.

"Those parties walking away not only ended the graduated response but also took pressure off the Government to put in place a mechanism to deal with the parades issues in north Belfast," he said.

"It demonstrated that unionism is strongest when it stands united. The DUP wants to see unionism working together rather than attacking and attempting to undermine each other."

Meanwhile, an Orangeman and former adviser to DUP MP Sammy Wilson has criticised the Orange Order from withdrawing marshals from the Ardoyne parade on Monday.

When marshals were used last year they were credited with helping the contentious parade to pass off peacefully.

Graham Craig, now an Ulster Unionist councillor, told the News Letter that the order could not absolve itself from blame after Monday's march sparked lengthy riots.

"As an Orangeman, you've a responsibility to behave in a way that prevents violence," he said.

"Therefore, just telling people not to commit criminal acts is not good enough.

"You have to act in a way that ensures they do not commit criminal acts."

Mr Craig said dialogue was needed to resolve the Ardoyne impasse, not confrontation.

"I was out in Drumcree in 1995 and 1996," he said. "That strategy failed. It failed 20 years ago and it will fail today. That's what people must learn."

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