Irish Republican News · April 26, 2013
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Loyalist politics in flux
Loyalist politics in flux

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A new, openly sectarian political party called ‘Protestant Coalition’ has been formed in the North by those involved in the recent loyalist flag protests and disturbances.

Willie Frazer was joined by a number of other high-profile loyalists including British right-wing extremist Jim Dowson and north Belfast loyalist Bill Hill.

The party claims to have already signed up more than 500 members across the north.

Set up as an alternative to the UUP and DUP, the party claims to have already signed up more than 500 members across the north. It says it will “co-operate” with other hardline groups such as Jim Allister’s Traditional Unionist Voice and the paramilitary-linked Progressive Unionist Party.

Both Mr Frazer and Mr Dowson face charges over illegal loyalist marches (a number of which ended in serious riots) over the decision of Belfast city council to reduce the flying of the British flag over the building.

Despite the party’s name, Mr Dowson denied the party was anti-Catholic.

“I work with Roman Catholics, my neighbour is Roman Catholic and it’s the same for some of the guys here. There are no problems at all,” he said.

“We have problems with republicans, we have problems with unionists that want to sell us out, we have problems with anybody who is against Ulster,” he said.

UPRG SAY NO

Meanwhile, the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) has rejected a hand of friendship extended by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at the party’s ard fheis.

On Saturday last week the Sinn Fein leader told delegates during his party’s annual conference in County Mayo that it was time to “build alliances” with working-class loyalist communities.

But the UPRG, which is linked to the unionist paramilitary UDA, said they were not convinced of Sinn Fein’s sincerity.

“Sinn Fein actions in the recent past has done nothing other than alienate our community,” said UPRG spokesman Colin Halliday.

“So many ordinary loyalists on the ground are asking why they should believe them now and if there is any real substance to their words.

“The denigration of our flag and our culture hardly bodes well for a prospective relationship based on mutual respect.

“There is also a feeling on the ground that the move by Sinn Fein to have the flag taken down from Belfast City Hall has created more problems and issues and there is a sense that Sinn Fein were exploiting this division.”

PUP DOCUMENT

However, the PUP, which has links to the unionist paramilitary UVF, have released a document which they claims lays out a number of suggestions aimed at promoting reconciliation.

There were proposals for healing sectarian divisions and dealing with victims, but there was also a clear warning that nationalists must accept that “Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom”.

Sinn Fein assembly member Mitchel McLaughlin gave a cautious welcome to the document.

“For many years now we have been calling for all political parties and other interested groups to put their ideas for dealing with the legacy of the conflict and the building of a process of reconciliation onto the table,” he said.

“On an initial reading the commitment to inclusivity as part of the discourse as we move forward is welcome.

“Likewise the acknowledgment that there can be no hierarchy of victims in any future process and the need for sensitivity are positive indications.

“What is needed is fresh thinking and the PUP are clearly trying to play a role in that.”

© 2013 Irish Republican News