The unionist response has been pretty immediate. Not only have all the unionist parties walked out of the wider talks at Stormont, but there has also been an attempt to provide a unified front in a statement issued by DUP leader Peter Robinson, UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, TUV leader Jim Allister, PUP leader Billy Hutchinson and Ian McLaughlin of the Ulster Political Research Group.
“If we are to convince unionists that violence is not the only response to those who have consistently succumbed to republican violence and threats of violence, we must provide alternative means to channel justified anger and outrage.
“There will be a graduated unionist response involving the Orange Institution, the PUL (Protestant Unionist Loyalist) community and political unionism. Unionist leaders are willing to share the strain within the political process. Political action in tandem with peaceful and lawful protests is the path we must follow.”
Of course, if that ‘graduated response’ becomes less peaceful and unlawful, as has repeatedly been the case in recent years, the chances of any accountability from the leaders of unionism/loyalism will be zero. Anyone looking for possible signs of political maturity or leadership in the joint statement will be disappointed. Perhaps, for just once, they might abide by the Parade Commission’s ruling and see what happens.