THE leaders of the two largest unionist parties yesterday discussed plans for a 'Unionist Forum'.
The DUP's Peter Robinson and Ulster Unionist Mike Nes-bitt held a meeting to finalise details of the body, announced last month as a reaction to loyalist flag violence.
The forum is expected to address the flags issue, parading, educational underachievement and measures to increase voter registration and turnout in unionist areas.
It is understood the party leaders discussed who to invite and where and when its first meeting should be held.
Details are expected to be released later this week.
Sinn Fein has said such a forum "will achieve nothing" without input from the nationalist community.
North Belfast assembly member Gerry Kelly said: "It is time that the leadership of Unionism got real and faced the fact that the north is no longer an Orange state."
He added: "Any move forward on symbols or people's identity has to be based on equality, parity of esteem and mutual respect.
"Until the leadership of unionism accept that starting point they will continue to lead their community up the garden path, bringing nothing but confusion and reactionary violence."
Alliance East Belfast MP Naomi Long, whose office on the Upper Newtownards Road has been a focus of daily loyalist protests, also said the flag dispute cannot be resolved by unionists alone.
She said a "single identity solution will not provide a lasting solution".
Ms Long added that she believed "most people in Northern Ireland want the protests to end" and that those involved in rioting did not listen to politicians.