Statement on behalf of the DUP and PUP Group Leaders,
Lee Reynolds and Billy Hutchinson
We call upon everyone who identifies with the Twelfth Celebrations to ensure that they are as big a success as previous years. The parades and bonfires are about celebrating a momentous victory and a key part of the narrative around our contribution to our National History.
In recent weeks there has been a clear strategy to rewrite this narrative and to discredit the celebrations surrounding it. Republicans wish to undo all positive progress such as the growth of Orangefest and the successes of the Bonfire programme. We must not let our unity of purpose be disrupted or harmed by the actions of those who want to devalue and demean us.
It is our belief that this continued aggression by Sinn Fein and their continuation of a cultural war, is a vein attempt to give their ageing leadership a legacy and to restore their credibility within their own ranks. This has also lead to their walking away from the institutions, and, in doing so, holding all of the citizens of Northern Ireland to ransom and hurting those most in need from all sections of our society. In short, when Sinn Fein finds itself in a predicament, it opts for street agitation and this occurs with parades, bonfires and other cultural issues.
In Belfast City Council in particular, Jim McVeigh is being used as the glorified message boy for Storey and Murray as they try to hide the strategic failures of Gerry Adams as they fail to deliver for their own communities as well as wider society. It is no surprise that Belfast has become their focus once again, following the huge success of the 3 Unionist MPs returned in Belfast.
We believe that the best answer to this street agitation, is to deliver our best during this year’s celebrations. This attempt at cultural dictation must not be accepted. Instead, we must work together for a cultural renewal that includes input from the parading organisations, bands, community organisations and bonfire groups.
Therefore, going forward, we invite those who want the Twelfth celebrations to succeed to come together this Autumn for a Cultural Convention. The aim of this will be to ensure that the Unionist Community can go forward with one voice in promoting our Culture, Heritage and tradition, as well as to ensure that our celebrations continue to be bigger, better and more successful than ever before.