Peace and war

With the hope surrounding meeting of John White and Alex Maskey in the Mayor’s parlour, there is a plethora of warnings about the consequences of any further violence. Sinn Fein claim that the UDA is on a sustained campaign of violence that can only end in another death.

In the Irish Times Gerry Morriarty was almost upbeat about the meeting:

“There is still much mutual distrust and suspicion, but at least at face value the fact that they were prepared to break through another political barrier indicated some unity of purpose in addressing the problem of sectarianism. The fact that the meeting lasted more than two hours also raises possibilities of progress.”

But rolling out a practical solution may take some time.

Meanwhile as shooting and rioting continue in the interface areas, the new man at UDA North Belfast gives some sense of his own grim determination:

“I am not a bigot. I don’t believe in shooting people because of their views. But if they [republicans] hit Protestants, it will be like for like. We have to defend our own people.” The UDA, Northern Ireland’s biggest loyalist paramilitary organisation with thousands of members in the province, and the other main loyalist terror group, the Ulster Volunteer Force, declared a joint ceasefire in October 1994.”

But the general tone reflects the fact that the interface areas are still caught up in a seemingly endless cycle of violence.