19 November 2005

Hain Says Loyalists Need New Agenda

Irish Abroad

**Via Newshound

By Sean O’Driscoll

Loyalist leaders have not offered any sign of developing a future political agenda, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said in New York on Tuesday.

Hain said that he gets a “barrage of complaints” when he speaks to Loyalists but they appear unable to follow Republicans into democratic politics. He also said that loyalism needs to ask if it has any purpose outside of gangsterism.

Hain was speaking during a three-day tour of New York and Washington.

“When I get Loyalists speaking to me, I get a barrage of complaints but I don’t get a future political strategy which, like it or not, Republicans have always had. That’s why Republicans are quite successful and I think the sooner Loyalists have a forward agenda, the more success they will have,” Hain said.

Hain said he had made his comments to individual Loyalist community leaders in Belfast, Lisburn and Ballymena but wanted the Loyalist leadership to consider his words.

He was speaking after the Ulster Defense Association announced that it wanted to discuss its future with the Northern Ireland Office and may consider disbanding.

Hain also called on the Orange Order to stop boycotting the Parades Commission, which is soon to have a new chairman and members.

“To keep boycotting the parades commission, especially a reconstituted parades commission, to put a road block up against dialogue, is not a forward agenda. There are too many people trapped in Northern Ireland’s past,” he said.

Hain said that his deputy, David Hanson, would be meeting with Loyalist leaders next week to discuss the UDA announcement.

Asked if there is any prospect of a political settlement when the largest Unionist party, the Democratic Unionists, have refusing to take part, Hain said that he was assured by DUP representative Jeffrey Donaldson, that the party was not completely ignoring the political system.

Hain said that it was time from the DUP to “come in from the cold.”

“It’s been out in the cold for most of its history. It’s now right at the center of Irish politics and with that come responsibilities. It’s a different, different role. They need to work that through and in time, I think they will,” he said.

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