Following a meeting of the party officers on Tuesday night and consultation with grassroots party members TUV has decided to withdraw from the Unionist Forum.
In a statement the party said:
“TUV was sceptical about the potential of the Forum to achieve anything of substance and made this clear at the outset. We were never interested in something which was merely an expediency for the moment. As the months have progressed the various subgroups of the Forum have rarely if ever met and public cynicism about the Forum and its ability to deliver anything has grown. In fact, most people have probably forgotten about its existence.
“After being launched in a blaze of publicity the Forum seemed to quickly disappear. TUV can say from experience that there was very little going on behind closed doors either.
“One of the subgroups which did meet on a fairly regular basis was the Parading Group. Interestingly, members of the group learned about the Cardiff talks from the media. Additionally, last month the DUP and Sinn Fein announced that they were going to bring forward their own proposals on flags and parades, something which was also supposed to be discussed at the Forum. When fellow Unionists raised the fact that they had not been consulted about the proposals the response from Sinn Fein was, “So what?” The fact that the DUP didn’t bother to tell fellow Unionists before agreeing the announcement suggests that while they may not have said it their attitude was similar.
“It is the strong belief of the Party that the greatest issue of concern to the wider Unionist community at the moment are the DUP/Sinn Fein plans to build a so-called “Peace Centre” at the Maze. While everyone could support the economic development of the site support within the Unionist community for a “Peace Centre” on the politically toxic Maze site is almost exclusively confined to the ranks of the DUP.
“The thirteen groups representing innocent victims who signed up to the Charter for Innocent Victims, FAIR, the UDR Regimental Association, the RUC GC Association, the RUC GC Widows Association and the biggest mass member organisation in the Unionist community, the Orange Order, have all urged the abandonment of the Maze project.
“The ironically titled “Conflict Resolution Centre” has created an unparalleled conflict between innocent victims and the Democratic Unionist Party. It could more properly be called a Conflict Centre.
“If the DUP are interested in Unionist unity they should join with the vast bulk of the Unionist community and pull the plug on the “Conflict Resolution Centre”. They have the power to apply the brakes. Let’s not forget that DUP representatives in the past have repeatedly warned of the potential of the Maze to become a shrine to terrorism. Chief salesman Jeffery Donaldson even told us that the victims of terrorism would not visit the site as it would be “an absolute abomination” to them.
“The challenge to the DUP is clear – get onside with the rest of the Unionist community if you are in the least interest in Unionist unity. Put Unionist unity above your unity with Sinn Fein. Stop the Maze Conflict Centre.”