Other unionist voices

With David Trimble on holiday, the local papers seem to be giving more space to other Unionist voices.

On the front of today’s Irish News is Trevor Ringland, founding member of Unionist pressure group Re-Union, who said last night that though party colleagues were angered by the ongoing attacks at interface areas, it was essential that they condemned the “wrongs of both sides”. He went on, “if we want to advance the benefits of living in a British society then we have to unequivocally stand against the wrongs on our own side as well as that originating from Republicans”.

In an extensive Op-ed piece for the Belfast Telegraph, Ian Paisley chooses to focus on the significance of the next election than any of the current disturbances on the streets of North and East Belfast. It is a fairly sustained attack on the UUP, blaming them solely for the rise in popularity of Sinn Fein amongst Nationalists, the tone is perhaps less strident (if not conciliatory) in terms of the role of Nationalists in Northern Ireland’s future.

“No settlement in Northern Ireland has endured over the last 30 years without the support of both unionists and nationalists. The present arrangements patently lack this. We must work to find a settlement that can command it. This can only be done on the basis of fairness, democracy and accountability for all. It is plainly evident to anyone in Northern Ireland today that there is no prospect of stability under the current arrangements. Any deal, which does not have the endorsement of the DUP, has no chance of long-term survival, whilst any agreement which does have our endorsement, offers a genuine prospect for long-term stability.”

He goes on to suggest:

“A deal done with the Ulster Unionist Party alone is a recipe for long-term instability. One reason for the disarray within the UUP and their demise as a serious political force is that they will say anything before an election to win votes and then break every promise afterwards.”

Still it remains far from clear exactly what Ian and his party is offering the electorate. It seems he means to be scrupulous in not promising anything concrete, so as not to disappoint when the time comes to deal with the opposition.

Certainly Steven King would like to know. Again in the Belfast Telegraph he looks at a speech Peter Robinson made at Ballymoney in July, and concludes there may be two conflicting strategies at work within the party, emanating from the Leader and the Deputy Leader.