Ending paramilitary and criminal activity

In the Belfast Telegraph, journalists David Gordon and Jonathan McCambridge neatly tie together the calls on NI [and Wales] Secretary of State Peter Hain to review the Government’s recognition of the UVF ceasefire. Not before time, given recent activities and the IMC’s repeatedly stated view that “the UVF remained active and violent and that it continued to be involved in organised crime.”.. Hmm.. Time to update the list of specified organisations used by Sentence Review Commissioners?

  • stan

    David Irvine’s response

    “No comment”

  • Comrade Stalin

    Noting again Jeffrey Donaldson’s weasly, equivocal and conditional words when it comes to loyalist paramilitarism. Why can’t unionists condemn loyalist paramilitaries in the same strident way they condemn republicans ?

    “It will be up to the Secretary of State to make an assessment of recent incidents, not just with the UVF but with regard to all groups.”

  • bertie

    I don’t believe that HMG have the will to tackle “paramilitarism” the euphemism for terrorist murder and thuggery. It wants to act as if ceasefires are holding so it will turn ablind eye as long at can get away with doing so – and it will get away with doing so. HMG does notactually care about “loyalist” terrorism as it does not directly threaten Canary Wharf, but it does not want to tackle republican terrorism, and it wants to be seen to be “even handed”. If only even handedness meant having zero-tolerance to all of them. There seems to be an assumption that if they cosy up to one, its alright as long as they cosy up to the others. Its as if this is one all but its two nil to the terorists.

  • Dick Doggins

    Off course the Uvers are still in ceasefire mood….its the little green men from Mars who have been doing all the killing, intimadation, drug dealings….
    Doesn`t everyone know that…

  • Moderate Unionist

    Comrade Stalin
    Noting again Jeffrey Donaldson’s weasly, equivocal and conditional words when it comes to loyalist paramilitarism.

    If you are going to quote somebody you should not be selective in what you say. Otherwise you damage your case. Mr. Donaldson continued
    “However it does strike me that if an organisation is murdering people on the streets of Belfast then it is very difficult to keep up an argument that you are on ceasefire.”

    You cannot advance the argument that Unionist are only vocal in condeming IRA terrorists. Both Bertie and I have stated categorically that we are against paramilitary/criminal activity from whatever source.

    I recognise that the issue is a hard problem, but summary justice, Kangeroo courts and intimidation is not the way forward for either or both commmunities.

    The government are the only people that have the resources to deal with this issue and I think the Jeffrey Donaldson should be commended for speaking out on the issue.

  • bertie

    Its a problem I mentioned on another thread. When Unionist politicians condemn “loyalist” terrorism, those quotes tend to be lost. I know sometimes they get weary but they mustn’t give up doing it though no matter how often this is ignored or twisted. Soemtimes you just have to do something because it is right, even if it is not appreciated.

    Well done Jeffrey

  • greg

    A relative of uvf murder victim, Craig McCausland summed up how their family were feeling about the muted response to the murder.

    “No DUP or UUP representative has made any attempt to contact the family since the murder”

    “If someone is murdered by the IRA, every Unionist MP is on that tv and radio”

    “Not one of them has contacted this family to even say that it is a tragedy.
    But they are quick to condemn when it is on the other side, because there’s news in it for them, because their pictures can be seen on screen and they can get publicity”

  • Comrade Stalin


    The way Jeffrey phrases his remarks about loyalists is much different from the way he phrases his remarks about republicans. The comments here are very much in the vain of “loyalists aren’t very nice, it looks like it might be an idea to remove recognition of their ceasefire” (no shit) – compare with his demands a few months ago for an all-out offensive on the IRA.

    Why doesn’t Donaldson call for an all-out offensive on loyalists ?

    Is there some sort of evidence in existence anywhere that unionists are actively working to put loyalist paramilitaries out of business ?

    You cannot advance the argument that Unionist are only vocal in condeming IRA terrorists.

    Yes I can, and I’m doing it right now. Unionists generally believe that loyalists, while they don’t really get along with them, are on their side for better or worse, and that by and large their actions are an understandable response to republicans. In your own words, the long term problem is really the republicans.

    My opinion is that the long term problem is paramilitarism in general, and there are very few elected politicians in NI who are seriously concerned with addressing it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    MU, just another point. Read the Daily Ireland article linked by the Slugger article I referred to in my previous post. Why is Donaldson calling for an offensive on the IRA rather than paramilitarism in general ?

  • bertie

    I beleive that the IRA is the biggest long term problem re subverting the state and as they are the real target of appeasement. They are also on my view far far better funded.

    This of course does not affect their ability to inflict misery on a local level on the ground and if there came a day when the top news item was that the infrastructure of the IRA/UVF/UDA/UFF etc had all been dismantled and their respective “communities” were no longer under their thrall and it wasn’t 1st of April. I would let out the biggest bloody cheer that “strange loud noice” would be the second news item.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Comrade Stalin
    There are things (important things) upon which I disagree with Jeffrey Donaldson. My point to you is that when people (particular those we disagree with) say things that we approve of, we should acknowledge this positively.

    Leaving out half the quote is not particularly fair.

    Of course you are still entitled to draw a comparison between his condemnation of the IRA and Loyalist paramilitary organisations.

    Do we need to encourage our politicians to have the courage to break out of their traditional mind sets? Given the recent election results that would be a challenge. What do you think?

    (I would be interested in Bertie’s opinion too).

  • Moderate Unionist

    Comrade Stalin
    In your own words, the long term problem is really the republicans.

    Can you point me to my own words?

  • irishman

    Peter Robinson on loyalist weapons (August 11, 2004 Irish News)

    “It is a much more difficult issue to deal with….we think it is linked to the confidence that the unionist community have about what the IRA does. My hope would be that clear IRA decommissioning, and a clear IRA stand down of its organisation would encourage a response from loyalist paramilitaries.”

    BIG difference to unionist attitudes regarding IRA decommissioning. The most the DUP leading light can offer is a ‘we think…’ proposition.

    Protestant churchmen and unionist politicians on the Loyalist Commission seem to beleive that their functions on such a body is to weigh in behind the thugs in sabre rattling about the UDA/ UVF intentions regarding catholics- hence we have Tommy Cheevers telling us loyalists feel under pressure to attack taigs yesterday and- lo and behold, Tommy- a house is bombed in Mountainview overnight.

    Perhaps the IRA should reciprocate and state it will only decommission when it is certain that unionist paramilitaries will cease attacking catholics, bombing their homes and issuing death threats – as in Coleraine and Dungannon within the past 24 hours.

  • martin


    you recon the IRA, is a bigger problem than the UDA which has 5 times as many members as the IRA.

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist


    But the UDA do not have worldwide support (America etc)

    The IRA are much more spread out with the UDA mainly concentrating in the East with smaller groups scattered all over the place. In other words they are much more suitably organised.

    Also I somehow doubt that the UDA is a wealthier than the IRA.

    Also, are the IRA not the best equipped terrorist group in NI? Its no use having 10,000 men armed mainly with pocket knives and sticks against 1,000 men armed with rocket propelled grenade launchers etc.

    Also that was the figure flying around years ago, is there any reliable source nowadays which can accurately determine membership in terrorist groups?

  • martin

    Still no sign of Fianna Fail giving up its anti-treaty IRA weapons or giving up criminality since entering constitutional politics in 1926 so we could wait at least another 79 years or till 2084 to see any movement from Loyalists/Republicans if Fianna Fail’s example is followed.

    The militia of blue shirted thugs (Gardai) are still killing people as they beat 14 year old Brian Rossiter to death in Clonmell police station in 2003.
    The harrasment by Gardai of a Shannon woman who refused to have anything of a romantic nature to do with one of their members continues–including death threats, window breakings and constant roadside checks for tax,insurance,faults on her car—-all wrote about in the Clare Champion and the Limerick leader approximately 3 weeks before Christmas.

    Its high time Mc Dowell disbanded his paramilitary organisation and brought in a acceptable police force.

  • martin

    Fermanagh young Unionist,

    At the height of the troubles in the early 70’s
    the membership of the UDA was estimated at 20,000 and that of the IRA at 5,000 by the then RUC, id accept these figures as accurate-as these were police figures for their own purposes they would have no reason to delude themselves by over/under estimating either side since these figures are from confidential documents released under the 30 year rule.
    About 1991 the Uda was claiming a membership of about 5,000 and Ira sources gave theirs at about 2500 to 3000–i would accept these figures as roughly accurate give or take a few hundred either way.
    at the same time the British side were estimating the Ira stregth at 500 to 1000.
    recently michael mc dowell gave the figure for IRA membership at 1500–I personally think this man hasnt a clue about anything but might have struck an accurate figure just by accident.

    your right though at the end of the day everyone is just going by rough guesstimates including the organisations themselves–with their cell structures where most of them dont even know each other,their staff turnover and their hangers-on/plastic/badge wearing pretend members—you know the ones that practice the dead eye stare in the mirror——–id say theres more job security working in any supermarket.

    By the way I remember an estimate in the early 90s from the British security analysts that said that it costed the IRA 12 millio pounds sterling a year to run their campaign 3m of which came from the USA and since 9/11 most of this has dried up.

  • bertie


    My last post should have read “This of course does not affect THE UVF/UFF ETC’S ability ….”

    “Do we need to encourage our politicians to have the courage to break out of their traditional mind sets? Given the recent election results that would be a challenge. What do you think?

    (I would be interested in Bertie’s opinion too).”

    It depends what you consider the “traditional mindsets” to be. I don’t consider that being a unionist means that you have to struggle with any demons before you realise that the UVF etc. are scum and that you need to break out of some default support for them. The only courage involved is in relation to making yourself a target for these murderers.

    It used to get on my wick when, way before the agreement, anytime there was a discussion about release of terrorists, someone would say “both sides of course” as if that would win me round. So the prospect of having republican murders loose on the streets would be made sweeter by having in addition lots of “loyalist” murderers out there.

    “In your own words, the long term problem is really the republicans.”

    I thing CS has mixed us up. I said that I considered that republican terrorists did constitute the biggest problem. Not by any means the only one. I just think despite them being equallly inherently evil, that the IRA has better resources, better support internationally and in NI and HMG is more frightened of it and with all its policies based on appeasing it. HMG’s appeasment of the UVF etc. is incidental. The impact on the lives of their victims is just as bad but I think that their terrorism does not affect the actions of governments. I am starting to repeat myself on these threads I am going to start contradicting myself soon!


    I share FYU’s scepticism about the numbers of the UDA. I suspect that there are a large number of idiots who think that it is cool to be thought of as in these organisations and it makes them feel important. I could be wrong, I am not in the isser circle.

  • martin

    i took the mirror starers into consideration look at last post above yours i just got there before you.

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist


    “At the height of the troubles in the early 70’s the membership of the.”
    Exactly, that was 30 years ago so those figures are irrelevant today.

    “About 1991 the Uda was claiming a membership of about 5,000 and Ira sources gave theirs at about 2500 to 3000”
    People shouldnt believe a word they say, I am glad you used the word ‘claiming’ instead of ‘was’.

    “British side were estimating the Ira stregth at 500 to 1000.”
    Hmmmm 500 IRA men in 1991, somehow I doubt it.

    “12 millio pounds sterling a year”
    And how much do you think they would have been making a year through donations etc. within Ireland, North and South?

    “3m of which came from the USA”
    Still, it was 3m more than what loyalists would have been getting,

    “since 9/11 most of this has dried up.”
    I thought SF was still making a fortune by posing as the innocent victims to quite a few gullible Americans?

  • martin

    Fermanagh Young Unionist,

    Just out of curiosity do you think there were more or less than 500 active IRA men in 1991.

    my own estimates judging by what i have heard and read would be as follows roughly.


    Care to hazard a guess?

  • Wichser


    How do you define ‘active’ in this context – actual or willing trigger-pullers ? It would also be useful if you could name your source/s.

  • martin



    the figures i gave were as i said my own estimates from what ive read and heard myself-some of my sources would probably rather not be named- the read figures would come from books/newspapers which youve probably read yourself—ed moloney etc —-I was just curious as to how close to the truth people would think my estimates are——if i was to include all the people who have played a part in these organisations over the past 30 years and are still alive these numbers would be many many more thousands for some of the groups mentioned— they are not included, if i was to include all the people who have let on they were in these organisations it would run well into the ooo,ooos.

  • bertie

    Martin I would be very suprised if too many of us would have a clue what the figures are. I would be specifically suprised if FYU did. Or maybe this is a standard part of the ciriculum at Portora now.

    All I know is that there are all too bloody many of them.

  • martin

    i now but i cant really be that far out in my guesses.

    glad to hear that FYU is too young to get into one of those organisations i think you have to be at least 16 for most–only joing-i know he wouldnt be into that at all, besides he needs to concentrate on his gcse(s)

  • andrew

    I think it is more relevant to consider the ammount of attacks the groups have carried out rather than the numbers involved in each of the organisations.

    Anyone have any figures for this year, for example

  • willowfield

    What does it matter if the UVF “ceasefire” is “de-recognised”? Sure they “de-recognised” the UDA “ceasefire” and it didn’t make a jot of difference to anyone.

    The “ceasefires” are a sham, and the Government’s “recognition” or otherwise is a sham.

  • bertie

    Maybe not – but one less official fiction would be welcome.

  • willowfield

    In previous feuds, were “ceasefires” ever “de-recognised”?

    Send the terrorists back to jail. All of them.

  • lower cregagh


    would you agree with banning bonfires which have a paramilitary connection.

    For example the lower newtownards road bonfire at pitt park & the bonfire at woodstock link, which are coordinated and run by the uvf.

  • Moderate Unionist

    lower cregagh
    I would agree with banning those two bonfires.

    Agree with your assessment of HMG etc. but given that, how should local Unionist politicians react to Loyalist paramilitary organisations?

    Should they a) denounce, b) prevaricate but call for action from HMG or c) work with paramilitaries to convince them of the error of their ways? Or do you have an alternative strategy?

  • bertie

    Definitely a) plus call for action from HMG. Bit worried about what c) may turn out to be in practice. I wouldn’t want it to be on a par with what the SDLP did with IRA/ Sinn Fein. It added to their legitimacy. Any interaction with these thugs should be on the basis that they are wrong, alwqays were wrong and what they need to do to be acceptable. Not negotiating with them, not “Oh yes we understand and there were legitimate reasons for what you did….Oh and if you tone it down just a bit lads you can join a pan-unionist front” We should not do with these organisations what we rightly condemned the SDLP for doing with IRA/Sinn Fein. The UVF etc. have already been given an exagerated sense of their own importance, by HMG (they were the only unionists Mo Molam had any time for) and just because they have bought a few suits, have had tea and buns with the PM and Irvine has swallowed a thesaurus, doesn’t mean we have to feed their egos any more.

    Maybe we should start a movement within unionism, specifically aimed at the “loyalist” gangsters. Although it may get misunderstood by a few because iof the very obvous threat to unionist people from republican terrorists, I truely beleive that most unionists would be on board. I once spoke to a anti IRA rally in Portadown. I gave a few strong commments about the IRA and appeasement and got some not unexpected rousing cheers. I then went on to say “I want to make it quite clear that I no more forgive the UVF, UFF and all the rest for the evil that they claim to do in my name, than I forgive the IRA for what it has done. I got just as strong a cheer. (There was one heckle from what I discovered was an ex UVF member but he was told to get lost by the crowd). Someone came up to me afterwards and said “I just want to thank you for what you said about the UVF, they murdered a wee Catholic girl up the road and they had no right to she was lovely wee girl”
    I think they had objected to this girl going out with a Prod.

    As long as there is not let up against the IRA etc. I do not beleive that there would be any electoral fall out from a concerted campaign against these thugs for any politican or party.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Do you think a unionist politician can denounce paramilitaries and also work in the community to resolve social disadvantage?

    Would this put him or her at risk?
    If so how would you counter this risk?

  • bertie


    A key element in establishing a decent society in NI, is to break the grip of fear that the terrorists have over their own “communities”. This was yet another failing of the Belfast Agreement and the way the “negotiation” that lead to it was tackled. It not only ignored this but actually underpinned the blind eye required for it to increase its grip.

    Specifically re the politicins responsibility, I think that that is part of the job. I realise that it’s easy for me to comment, tucked up as I am safe in my living room amd in my anonimity.

    I do not accept that these people (the gangsters) represent their communities, people in these areas need to be supported in breaking free from the tyranny of thses gangs as well as the social deprivation.

    Unionist politicians are at risk from terrorism and presumably take what steps they can to deal with this. Despite other comments on this site, unionist politicians do speak out against them. However I accept that if this became more organised and more focused and therefore more likely to be effective, the danger rises exponentially and these murderers would have more access to the unionist politicians than republican murderers do. Paradoxically though, the more people who actually beleive that it will work and put their heads above the parapet, there comes a moment when the danger recedes, even if just because there are too many targets for the terrorists to deal with. It’s getting the momentum and the critical mass of people.

    It won’t be easy but then the last 35 years haven’t been a walk in the park.

    I don’t think that it is all down to the politicians

  • Moderate Unionist

    I realise that it’s easy for me to comment, tucked up as I am safe in my living room amd in my anonimity.

    That is the reality. Get involved at grass roots and see what you can achieve. I’m right behind you.

    By the way have you read northern protestants; an unsettled people by Susan McKay.

  • bertie

    “Get involved at grass roots and see what you can achieve. I’m right behind you.”

    Just how far behind though? ;0)

    No I haven’t read it. I take it this is a recommendation. I still have Dean Godson’s book in my eyeline rebuking me for having only managed to skim it

  • Moderate Unionist

    Much closer than you might think 😉 Glad you got the point. 🙂

    As for the book it is illuminating but rather depressing. It does make you think however.

    It offers a series of interviews on what people from a wide variety of Unionist backgrounds think. It is slightly out of date now but nevertheless would be a worthwhile investment.

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist


    “Just out of curiosity do you think there were more or less than 500 active IRA men in 1991.”

    Well 500 does not sound like a lot when I can name 4 IRA men who were active and living in my local area and those are just the ones we know of. We know of a lot more in neighbouring (nationalist) villages and if we asked around we could probably come up with a list of quite a few. BTW remember there were a lot of Southern IRA men as well.

    “Care to hazard a guess?”

    Nope because that’s all it would be – a guess. I don’t think many people have a clue what the real figures really are.


    “I would be specifically suprised if FYU did” & “Or maybe this is a standard part of the ciriculum at Portora now.”

    It would help if you learned to spell but that is a completely different story. Anyway to the point, why the sudden paranoia? I think you may overestimate your own intelligence.

  • bertie


    Why would it help if I learned to spell? How thins are spelt on here is a function of spelling plus keyboard dexterity. The fact that the result of how these work together is more a problem for me than for others is not a big deal.

    What paranona? I did not expect you to answer Martin’s question as you indeed confirmed. I was simply letting Martin know that it was unrealistic to expect a schoolboy (or one who was recently) to have such figures at his fingertips. The snide nature of your post leads me to think that you consider I was having a dig. I wasn’t. But I will now:-

    Where the hell did this pathetic little outburst come from “I think you may overestimate your own intelligence.” If your last post is indicative of your cerebral functioning, I certainly don’t have anything to fear from you. You probably can spell better than I can. Most people can. It is probably easier to spell, if you don’t have a large vocabulary.

    Now you see that was a dig!

  • bertie

    MU are you politically active?

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    Calm down Bertie, no need to cry about it! FFS

  • bertie


    Don’t worry – your immaturity, (even taking into account your age), although it is a matter for pity, is not a matter for tears.

  • martin

    Are the Real Ira the military arm of fine gael.

    John varian 46 who was sentenced by the special criminal court of membership of the real Ira in may, is also a fine gael election worker.A character witness the former mayor of Cork city-fg-testified that Varian had worked for him during past local elections as a canvasser and put up FINE Gael posters—-have Fine Gael truly embraced the democratic process since their fascist blueshirt days.

    Or is it a case of they wont disband and decommission their military arm until Fianna Fail hands over the weapons they brought into the dail in 1927.