Which makes it all the more embarrassing for the DUP that the leader of the UDA, Jackie McDonald, has just argued strongly against the position that the DUP has adopted on the issue of Orange marches:
"People used to walk down roads where Protestants lived. Now they want to walk down the same road where nationalists live. It might be tradition and it might be culture, but why would you?"Why indeed? But McDonald does not leave it at the level of a rhetorical question – he goes on to give the answer that all nationalists know, but most unionists deny:
"What I’ve seen at Garvaghy Road before, or the Ormeau Road – once they got down the road, it was triumphalism straight out. That’s not the reason to walk down the road. That wasn’t the reason they walked down the road 30 years ago, or 50 years ago or 100 years ago. But they’ve turned it round. They’re not walking down the same road for the same reason. It’s to get one up on the other community, or being there because the other community says you can’t be."It will be interesting to see how the DUP – wrapped in their orange bannerettes – react to that. The work of the Hillsborough Agreement working group on parades is not yet finished, and the leader of the unionists paramilitary wing has effectively come out and agreed with the nationalist position. Can Robinson now use a failure to agree an 'orange-friendly' outcome of the working group to delay the transfer of policing and justice again?
McDonald's statements, made during a period of high-pressure talks on the parading issue, cannot not have been innocent. He knew he was taking the legs out from under the DUP – the question is why he did it.
He half-answers the question himself, saying that he believes that the emphasis now should be on community building, even though that is a very long-term task. Could it be that the paramilitaries in the unionist community are actually more responsible and conciliatory than their politicians? If so, McDonald is giving a very clear message to the DUP – that they do not have the support of the men in berets and dark glasses.