Unionist groups unite to form loyalist opposition to the British government White Paper on Northern Ireland
On 20 March 1973 a British government White Paper entitled 'Northern Ireland Constitutional Proposals' was published which proposed a devolved power sharing assembly at Stormont and a Council of Ireland.
Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Brian Faulkner welcomes the document. Representatives from numerous loyalist groups, unhappy with the White Paper, meet at Stormont. They include members of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), UUP, Ulster Vanguard Movement (UVM), Ulster Defence Association (UDA), Ulster Defence Volunteers (UDV) and the Orange Order. They agree to form a united loyalist front to launch a campaign against the White Paper both in Northern Ireland and in Britain.
After the four hour meeting, Captain Lawrence Orr of the UUP, who is a Unionist Member of Parliament at Westminster, reads a statement to waiting reporters. They had submitted four conditions to the British government. Despite some concessions on the first two points,
We cannot accept the White Paper as it stands.
Captain Laurence Orr will join DUP leader Reverend Ian Paisley, in opposing the White Paper in the House of Commons. Reverend Ian Paisley is adamant they will use every parliamentary device at their disposal to defeat the White Paper. They will use parliament to ensure the White Paper meets their four demands.
Ian Paisley is keen to stress the united loyalist action front is not the formation of a new political party. The representatives are in agreement,
We are going to save Northern Ireland.
Leader of the UVM William Craig explains the coalition of groups has a collective leadership. As Reverend Ian Paisley and Captain Laurence Orr are attending Westminster, they are joint chair of the group, but anyone can be chair.
Paramilitary groups are involved as part of a united front against the White Paper proposals. However William Craig does not believe that the actions by the united front will lead to street violence. He believes their positive lead and action will,
Give the people feelings of confidence that there is an organisation capable of defending Ulster’s vital interests.
Reverend Ian Paisley adds,
If the British government feel they can resist the united wishes of the Northern Ireland people then that’s a decision for the British government.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 21 March 1973.