Unionism’s graduated response proving an interesting challenge, and a far from stupid one…

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Somehow there’s an odd resonance between the now infamous ‘Graduated Response’ of Unionists and that classicly ambiguous acronym of Sinn Fein’s TUAS document. The latest iteration is not a call for the collapse of Stormont, but in fact a greater focus on the particulars of the Parades Commission’s decision in North Belfast…

The issue of the Ligoniel parade will not go away after 12th July evening. This is a further part of our graduated response strategy and follows on from our withdrawal from the Leaders Talks, ending contact with the so-called Parades Commission and the steps announced today by the Orange Institution.

In addition, the parties are agreed that at every level – Council, Assembly, Westminster and Europe – the denial of cultural expression resulting from republican violence and threats of violence will have a consequence determining how our members, at each of these levels of government will participate.

It’s an interesting challenge, and not a stupid one. There is a perfectly respectable defence of the Parades Commission decision against the Orange, which is firmly rooted on the grounds of public order, which is that finding against Republican residents groups are likely to be much more dangerous than finding against the OO.

Enlarging the frame of reference, rather than battering the Parades Commission further and getting the same negative result at least shows something more than the fatalistic reflex that has brought us to this pass…

In the meantime, by not explaining what it actually means [I thought we were told that unionists couldn't do creative ambiguity? - Ed], Unionism has left some of their opponents trying to second guess what it actually means.

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