Unionist unity call by head of Orange Order


A CALL for unionist unity issued by the grand master of the Orange Order, Robert Saulters, is reflecting a debate that is taking place at unionist grassroots level, according to the deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Danny Kennedy.

Mr Kennedy said yesterday that the DUP, the UUP and representatives of the smaller unionist groupings must examine the issue of unionist unity but that such debate must be careful and considered.

He made his comments after Mr Saulters added his weight to the developing debate within unionism about the potential for a merger between the DUP and the UUP or some other form of unionist political realignment.

Mr Saulters said there was too much division within unionism and a single unionist party was needed to maintain Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.

“We will continue to dilute the union if we fight and bicker among ourselves,” he warned at the reopening of Lavin Orange Hall on Friday, which was destroyed in a sectarian arson attack four years ago. “There is a huge groundswell of opinion that there must be a drive towards unionist unity or at the very least better joined-up thinking between unionists.

“Personally, I believe there should be one big unionist party which represents all the views that I hear. It must be a party that is big enough and modern enough to allow people with conflicting opinions to work together for the common purpose of maintaining the union,” said Mr Saulters.

“The one phrase which seems to really upset our enemies is unionist unity. They are unable to cope with the prospect and we should take note of that.”

Mr Saulters’s remarks reflect the tentative debate developing within and between the DUP and UUP. Since the British general election, senior DUP and UUP figures have cautiously welcomed the growing debate, with First Minister Peter Robinson urging all unionists to work together, as did UUP Assembly member for Strangford, David McNarry.