McGuinness: Unionists agree Orange Order is linked to UVF and PUP

Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness said mainstream elected unionists backed his analysis

Martin McGuinness has said unionist leaders have told him the Orange Order, Ulster Volunteer Force and Progressive Unionist Party in Belfast are acting as "one and the same thing".

The NI deputy first minister made the claim on the BBC's The View programme.

The Orange Order has said his remarks were "entirely without substance".

"The Orange Institution takes its own decisions, applies its own decisions and stands by its own decisions," a spokesman for the order said.

Mr McGuinness has previously said that he believed the Orange Order had been infiltrated by the PUP and the UVF, a claim that was also denied by the order at the time.

However, the Sinn Féin representative has now said that mainstream unionist politicians accepted his analysis.

Start Quote

We condemned terrorism when Mr McGuinness and his cohorts were actively involved in the IRA and continue to unreservedly oppose it today”

End Quote Orange Order statement

Mr McGuinness told The View: "Unionist leaders have told me that they regard the UVF, the PUP and the Orange Order in Belfast as one and the same thing.

"I'm not going to say which unionist leaders, but I have been told by unionist politicians that the UVF, the PUP and the Orange Order are effectively one and the same thing in the city of Belfast.

"Mainstream unionist elected representatives have told me that they accept my analysis," Mr McGuinness added.

In response, the Orange Order spokesman said Sinn Féin were "masters of propaganda".

"We condemned terrorism when Mr McGuinness and his cohorts were actively involved in the IRA and continue to unreservedly oppose it today.

"The Orange Institution have always stood firm against attacks from the republican movement.

"During the height of the Troubles these attacks included the brutal murder of over 300 of our members and over 300 arson attacks on Orange halls.

"Where physical violence failed in the past, so too will verbal attacks fail now," the statement added.

The Sinn Féin MLA had made the remarks as he was asked why, earlier this week, he had accused unionist politicians of listening to extreme elements within their own community.

On Tuesday, Mr McGuinness said unionist leaders had allowed extremists to influence their involvement in the Haass talks on flags, parades and the past.

The Haass talks broke up without a deal on New Year's Eve, and Tuesday saw the first meeting of Northern Ireland's five main parties since the end of the negotiations.

'Terrorist crimes'

After the meeting Mr McGuinness said: "I have watched over the course of the last 18 months unionist parties dancing to the tune of extremists within their own community and that has to end.

"I say that because I believe the influence of these people has impacted on the Haass negotiations and the Haass outcome.

"This is a time for leadership, this is a time for standing up to extremists who are trying to bring this process down."

In response, Nigel Dodds from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) told the Commons on Wednesday that the deputy first minister's remarks were "a transparent attempt to distract from Sinn Féin's abject lack of leadership in relation to addressing their continued glorification of past terrorist crimes".

Making reference to Sinn Féin's backing of a controversial IRA commemoration at Castlederg, County Tyrone, last August, Mr Dodds said republicans should "stop wallowing in the filth of murder".

The interview with Martin McGuinness was broadcast on The View on BBC One Northern Ireland on Thursday night.

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