The unionist blind spot…

THE UVF ceasefire has, once again, been called into question by all sides after the murder of Craig McCausland. And once again, it is innocent people with no connection to the feud or paramilitarism who are paying with their lives. Four days after McCausland’s horrific murder (his mother had also been murdered by the UDA aged 23), the family had yet to see a unionist politician darken their doorstep or phone to offer sympathy – their excuses rang pitifully hollow – in stark contrast to the way they react to IRA murders. Lindy McDowell thinks it’s time we all took a stand against all paramilitaries.

McDowell writes:

There is a point to paramilitary violence and those of us who just get swept away by the sheer horror of it all miss that point.

The point is about paramilitary self perpetuation.

The latest loyalist feud is part of that trend. It’s about one group attempting to assert supremacy over another in a community that is already entirely revolted by all their methods and means.

An example of how removed they are from reality is the sickening sight of three paramilitary flags – and wreaths – placed on an Eleventh night bonfire in a gloating display by the rival murdering gang.

Do they have any idea how normal people recoil from them?

Apparently not. Because the truth is we don’t recoil from them half enough.

To those outside loyalist working class areas it may be difficult to understand the enormous grip of terror, paramilitary gangs exert. Leaders of the Protestant/unionist community need to make this a little more clear. They also need to make a little more clear the revulsion of so many people at how these gangsters have attempted, and in some cases succeeded, in hijacking aspects of their culture.

It should not just be nationalist politicians who speak out against the loyalist yobs. Unionist politicians should be shouting their disgust from the rooftops too. Just as moderate nationalist politicians should be highlighting the cynical manipulation of their own community by republican paramilitary thugs.

We allow paramilitaries to set the agenda in Northern Ireland – to set, not just one side of the community at the other’s throat but to tear individual communities, streets, even families apart. Put simply, they know how to wind us up.

The paramilitaries by unspoken agreement, sustain each other’s existence and excesses.

It’s time the rest of us did something similar. That decent people from all sides formed an alliance against the paramilitaries – ALL the paramilitaries.

The lack of unionist revulsion at loyalist violence appears to be in reverse correlation to unionist disgust at republican paramilitarism. McCausland’s aunt said: “If someone is murdered by the IRA every unionist MP is on that TV and radio.” Nationalists have been familiar with this pattern of events for years, but this time, many within the unionist community will no doubt find themselves agreeing with an Irish News editorial arguing that feeble appeals for calm and condemnation – which happen after the event anyway – no longer represent good enough political leadership.

Still no word from David Ervine either that I’m aware of.

  • T.Ruth

    The paramilitaries are criminal organisations and they have been allowed to establish an iron grip on the working class communities due almost entirely to weak governments that have pandered to them for almost forty years. It is difficult for people who live in areas that are under paramilitary control to do other than take the line of least resistance.
    We need government action against paramilitary groups and especially we require action to attach their material assets. We need an end to dealing with any political group that has not clearly established its democratic credentials. The mindset of those in the Northern Ireland Office and in the Blair government must change. Northern Ireland people have a right to live in an environment that is not polluted by the activity of a criminal underworld and that will not be changed until there is zero tolerance of all kinds of crime,and where there is the prospect of retribution that fits the crime.
    Criminals should be required to pay the full economic cost of their crime including the cost to police, to courts and they should be required to make material restitution where possible to their victims. The less potential for restoration the longer the sentence. Do the crime ,then do the time with ten year sentences that last ten years for example.Its long past time when those in power wise up and tackle the major problem in our society before the chance of creating a normal environment for all our children becomes unattainable.
    T.Ruth

  • Comrade Stalin

    The point made in Lindy’s article is something I’ve been saying here for a while, particularly in the past couple of days. Unionist politicians don’t concern themselves with condemning loyalist paramilitaries. Equally, republican politicians don’t concern themselves with condemning republican paramilitary activity either, although they don’t espouse the law-and-order credentials that unionism claims for itself.

    The fallacy that needs to be corrected straight away is this “most people despise the paramilitaries”. This is wrong. Most people think the paramilitaries one way or another have a reason for existing, and even when their neighbours are getting brutally murdered they won’t step up to report them to the police or assist with their prosecution. The politicians who lead them assiduously avoid coming down on their “own” paramilitarism, fearful that their electorate will lash out against them.

    Until this problem is recognised paramilitarism will continue to perpetuate itself.

    T.Ruth, I disagree on several levels. Firstly paramilitaries don’t only have a grip on working class communities, they interfere with the lives of the middle and upper classes as well, albeit to a different extent. Secondly their existence is nothing to do with government weakness; it’s because large numbers of people support them. On the nationalist side of things this is pretty obvious; on the unionist side of things it is less obvious but still pretty blatant with unionist politicians openly associating with paramilitaries or even working with them to stage little uprisings, eg ulster resistance or the UWC strike, where unionism took direct advantage of the same weakness they complain about when the government deals with republicans.

    No government action can rid people of the notion they seem to have that the gangsters in their midst are a necessary evil. Our political leadership has to convince the people of that first. Paramilitarism needs to go out of fashion, before it can go out of business.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Comrade Stalin
    Paramilitarism needs to go out of fashion, before it can go out of business.

    How would you go about this?

    a)Should Unionist politicians condemn loudly loyalist paramilitaries and have nothing to with them?
    b)Should they issue bland statements but urge the police to clamp down on lawlessness (behind the scenes)?
    c)Should they allocate public money to community groups (which must interface with paramilitary groups in order to be effect) to improve the conditions in the protestant estates?

    Obviously, you could say the same about republican groups (but that would take us off thread).

  • U Curtu

    A very apposite contribution; congratulations.

    A number of questions occur to me arising therefrom.

    Can our ‘political leadership’ be trusted to exorcise the notional or latent acceptance by society of gangsterism?

    I feel there are other elements who have a greater responsibility.

    It has occured to me for a very long time that the media has a critical role in this. They could begin by ending the use of military nomenclature to descibe these individuals. Referring to people like the Shoukris (simply for example) as “Brigadiers”, even if it is parenthetical, reinforces subconciously the notion that they are ‘leaders’, thus endowing them with some sort of legitimacy, however questionable.

    It has long been a concern to me that the local tabloid media fetishise (even inadvertently) the exploits of local gangsters without any thought for the effects of doing so upon their readership.

    Would you agree therefore that the media can be instrumental in denuding gangsterism without jeopardising its credibility or independence?

    If so, do you agree that therefore its role is of more organic importance than any local agenda-wielding politico? It’s just that, personally, I am inclined to listen to the reports of someone like Dennis Murray or Brian Rowan and absorb them. When the rhetoric starts wafting out of a Dodds or Kelly, my attention span shrinks in seconds.

    Interested in your thoughts.

  • bertie

    All the threads seem to be merging into one today.

    I am not sure to what degree “loyalist” terrorism does affect middle class unionists (except for the many occasions of mistaken identity, including one of my wider family circle). I am not aware of it affecting mine directly. It is one of the many things I hold against many of my middle class acquaintances who supported the agreement. The terrorists, including the “loyalist” ones were not moving back into their areas to intimidate and keep their “communities” under their thall. As long as nice middle class people were under less direct threat, who cared about those in the gettos? What’s a bit of “internal housekeeping” amongst friends?

    U

    “Referring to people like the Shoukris (simply for example) as “Brigadiers”, even if it is parenthetical, reinforces subconciously the notion that they are ‘leaders’, thus endowing them with some sort of legitimacy, however questionable”

    For the same reason I would like to see the end of the term “paramilitary”. Many of us have a thing about words and this is definelly one of mine

  • Wichser

    bertie

    Like it or not they do have authority, authority of a kind anyway – militarily enforced and militarily protected. A variety of people fo ascribe legitimacy to them – their followers and supporters, whether criminal or political. This includes members of the middle class.

  • bertie

    Whether or not they get support from the middle class isn’t the point I was making. I was questioning CS’s point that they interfere in the lives of the middle classes. I still think that the damage they inflict is by and large targetted at the working classes, including their own gettos.

  • Moderate Unionist

    U Curtu
    You pose an interesting question. IMHO, journalists and politicians suffer from the same failing. The are looking for a sound bite rather than a solution. It is easier to condemn than resolve. Sensationalism sells papers, worthy actions do not.

    The working class estates have many problems. Those that can, leave. Leaving behind the weak, the old, the infirm. These are easy prey for the strong men. These communities are weak, suspicious of outsiders and have little hope for the future.

    They do not read newspapers, they listen to rumour and they believe the worst.

    Most people in the estates believe that the police are ineffective, and that nobody in authority (social services, housing executive)cares about them.

    My solution build community centres in every big estate, which provide 24/7 police cover (with significant manpower), access to services (one stop shop) such as social security, health and community meeting spaces and staff these centres with a mixture of local and external people.

    I would also provide locally elected representatives with an office and a budget for improving the infrastructure of the local estate (with appropriate oversight committee and professional support of course).

    In reality this is too big a subject to resolve in one post, but you get the drift.

  • spirit-level

    “The lack of unionist revulsion at loyalist violence appears to be in reverse correlation to unionist disgust at republican paramilitarism”

    Just makes you want to give up, the stinking hypocracy is revolting. Pass me the sick bag.

  • joe bloggs

    “The working class estates have many problems. Those that can, leave. Leaving behind the weak, the old, the infirm. These are easy prey for the strong men. These communities are weak, suspicious of outsiders and have little hope for the future.”

    I find the above to be a strange comment, i live in a working class Nationalist community where there is a strong sense of community and in many respects a vibrant forward thinking ethos.

    The majority of householders have morgages and work hard to improve their personal way of life.

    Myself and many of my neighbours work in well paid jobs and are happy in our surroundings.Good neighbours are hard to find.

    I have friends from the protestant community who feel the same, and yes, while the flags in july are a little off putting for me when visiting at this time of year, they are private home owners who have goood neighbours.

    This is obviously not true of all communities, but from personal experience, very few leave because of “strong men”

    As regards reading papers, i think your personal prejudices are an inditement of your own snobish thinking.

  • aquifer

    To the extent that it fails to suppress paramilitaries, the state is currently licensing them to persecute others.

    Its the state’s job instead to ensure that it has a monopoly of force, because it can best be held accountable for any improper or inappropriate use of force.

    So any offence such as assault should be much more severely punished when it has a paramilitary connection, as it is part of a conspiracy to supplant the state by using force unaccountably. i.e. A fight in a UVF LVF feud is over who controls communities. The legal answer if the assault comes to court has not to be that one person is more right or more wrong, but that both are wrong, the state is right, and both are punished, and severely, for presuming to control entire communities. And such a case should only require the state as prosecutor, and injuries consistent with assault.

    As when a senior Garda verifies IRA membership, the state must have the last word on whether a paramilitary is an effective competitor with it.

    Concerned about the human rights implications?

    Think of the severity of penalties for treason in historic periods when barbarity was more general, for in terms of human rights, which are claimed by EU states as an overarching authority, the actions of paramilitaries are all treasonable even when not immediately barbaric.

  • Moderate Unionist

    joe bloggs
    So no need for the £3million pounds for Poleglass then. You might want to read this
    £3 million

    The £3 million investment is intended to not only enhance the appearance of Glasvey but also to help address issues of concern to residents, such as antisocial behaviour and the need for privacy for individual residents.

    Do you think these people really need the money or are they just trying it on. Maybe there isn’t a drugs problem, or large numbers of people unemployed in your area, but other areas do have severe problems and with your education and confidence you might consider getting involved.

    As for not reading the papers. 25% of the population of Northern Ireland are

    illiterate
    . Please note, there is no suggestion by me that this is a reflection on them. I am not trying to be snobbish, I am trying to address the significant issues brought up in this thread. Obviously, you weren’t aware of the facts, but no doubt you will now consider things in a different light.

  • fair_deal

    Loyalist paramilitarism is the key strategic issue for Unionism (a greater challenge than an accomodation with Irish nationalism) and it is one that it is not applying itself to nor developing the full policy vision it needs to tackle this deep-rooted problem.

    The UUP and DUP policy units should spend a little less time on talks papers and more on this matter and a fundamental discussion is needed among the political parties, loyal orders, churches and social capital groups about how this is purged from our community.

  • heck

    I see how this thread has changed from being about unionist ambivalence to loyalist violence to being about deprived working class areas and “paramilitary” violence. (I notice that unionists condemn “paramilitary” violence when they want to talk about loyalist violence. If there is a riot in republican areas they are quick to be specific and condemn republicans by name.)

    This ambivalence to loyalist violence, and unionist support for Blair’s illegal violence in Iraq, convinces me that unionist refusal to share power with Sinn Fein has nothing to do with objections to violence (much less that loyalist violence!!!) and some rusty guns in a bog in the republic of Ireland, but rather is an excuse for their refusal to share power with uppity nationalists.

  • Moderate Unionist

    heck
    1) There is no future political settlement that does not include power sharing.

    2) The rule of law is basis of all democracies. There can be no private armies, no third force, no paramilitary activity and crime is crime.

    3) A significant proportion of the Unionist population voted for the Belfast agreement. This was a conscious (and difficult)decision to let bygones be bygones and to give powersharing a very really chance. It was a risk, it did not work out as anticipated but we are where we are.

  • trev

    moderate unionist

    no need to spend 3 million on the unionist interface area of madrid st, in east belfast,

    Yes, they are people put out of other unionist areas for being problem families.

    They have problems & other communities don’t want them.

    But pushing them into conflict areas will surely only exasperate problems

  • U Curtu

    Moderate Unionist does no more than state the ‘irreducible minima’ (a Blairism, I know, I’m sorry) that anyone wishing to exist in a C21 democracy can – and should – expect. I can recognise, and fully endorse it, even though I am in no sense a unionist. Why must some of you people engage in sub-Sixth Form point scoring when some common sense appears? Some of the rebuttal to MU smacks of arguing in RE class that that bit in the ten commandments about not killing people is so, like, old testament.

    The basic tenet of consitution-building is the achievement of a recognition of the fundamentals we can agree on. Everything else is secondary. That is surely the legacy of the GFA, irrespective of its perceived manifold failures.

    What we can all, surely, agree on is that there can be no place for legitimised gangsterism, of whatever hue. For gangsterism is what it is; all pretence to ‘paramilitarism’, where all the woolly faces are concerned, ceased almost a decade ago. Any articulate spokesperson prepared to assert that gangsterism must stop, and to do so publicly and genuinely, ought to be actively welcomed and congratulated by all who testify to a desire for a democratic future for this place.

    Or is that too much to ask?

  • heck

    moderate unionist

    Moderate Unionist. I supported the agreement as well. However the majority of the unionist population voted against it. I actually though the agreement was working–2/3 of the republican arsenal was destroyed and British have gone part way to reforming the police. Progress was being made towards parity between both identities in Northern Ireland. It was slowly bring about a more normal society in Nor Iron

    Unionists killed the agreement. They claim that it was because of republican arms. I do not believe that!!! I believe it was because of a refusal to recognize republicanism as a legitimate political aspiration. The arms issue was being solved!!!!

    This thread was about the hypocrisy of unionist reaction to loyalist (and state) violence and criminality. When unionists (and British politicians and media) get exercised about republican excesses (like the brutal murder of Robert McCartney) and sit silent about the more common place loyalist violence any comment on this hypocrisy is answered by accusations of “what-aboutery”. You have only to check back on this site to see how often this is true.

    However “what-aboutery” is a legitimate way of addressing unionist double standards.

    To me the real reason unionists voted against the agreement is the same as the reason they voted against the Sunningdale agreement. It’s because the majority of the unionist population don’t recognize their nationalist neighbors as equal. Republican arms are an excuse!!!. They could have been gone by now!

    Unionists are not exercised about loyalist violence because republican violence is an excuse not to treat nationalist as equal. If their comments on the IRA were genuine they would be outraged at loyalist violence and would want to send the British “dear leader” to The Hague as a war criminal.

  • U Curtu

    *sigh*

    I rest my case, regrettably.

  • Alan

    It is concerning to see the resurrection of the term *rusty guns* again. There is a clear political motivation behind it.

    It is true that Unionist disregard of loyalist paramilitaries smacks of hypocrisy (although I know a good number of unionist politicians who have stood up against that influence in very difficult situations).

    There is a clear need for a balanced assault on paramilitary violence and influence. The problem is how to support people in local areas who, inevitably, will have to be the ones to stand up against paramilitary activities. There is, however, no doubt that it is time to take the problem by the throat.

    Also, let us not diminish the issue of PIRA arms. They need to go and some have already gone, but for the want of a simple description, let alone the obvious answer of a photograph, the PIRA took their eyes off the prize and landed us where we are today in the politics of extremes.

    No matter how you argue the case, most Irish people want the guns gone and the organisations wound up.

  • Moderate Unionist

    heck
    Unionists killed the agreement. They claim that it was because of republican arms. I do not believe that!!! I believe it was because of a refusal to recognize republicanism as a legitimate political aspiration. The arms issue was being solved!!!!

    The Unionists didn’t kill the agreement. We all did.

    Collectively we thought there were more important things than the agreement.

    For some it was the necessity to retain arms, for others it was the necessity to destroy political opponents, others sought to defend the right to march, many defended the moral high ground “no terrorists in government”, and for yet more it was more important to cut the grass or enjoy a second holiday.

    Whatever, we can all be pleased that our primary aims have been satisfied. Of course the economy is wrecked, the education system will be destroyed blah blah blah

    So revel in your republicanism and ask yourself what now. How do you bring peace and prosperity to your community. How will you improve the lot of the people of Northern Ireland, because in this fast moving and highly competitve world, if you aren’t moving forwards you’re going backwards.

  • Moderate Unionist

    trev
    Agree entirely

    fair deal
    I’ve been meaning to endorse your post 11:59 for some time. Perhaps it needs a joint approach by the UUP and the DUP?

  • Comrade Stalin

    MU,

    “How would you go about this?”

    The first step is to get everyone to agree to it. Since I’m not convinced unionists are serious about removing paramilitarism, that needs to change first. If unionists are serious about removing paramilitarism, then they will be pro-active in having murals and paramilitary flags taken down, calling upon the police to arrest and prosecute paramilitary-linked individuals, and be arguing in the House of Commons in favour of more police and army activity in neighbourhoods where paramilitaries are strong. They should completely stonewall the paramilitary organizations and refuse to have anything to do with them. Since loyalist paramilitaries have no direct electoral mandate what is difficult about this ?

    Secondly, the objections to powersharing on the basis of the presence of republicans need to stop. Once power sharing is up and running again, our politicians should collectively admit that they have all had unfortunate links to paramilitarism in the past, and then turn to the matter of how to disarm *all* the paramilitary organizations. I think we need to send the message out to people first that there is a working, stable political arrangement that will last; then send out the message that everyone, not just republicans, has been far too indulgent in the easy solutions offered by violent means, and that a line must be drawn under it.

    U Curtu asks : “Can our ‘political leadership’ be trusted to exorcise the notional or latent acceptance by society of gangsterism?”

    The matter of addressing the problem starts right there. Our politicians at the moment refuse to tell their electorate that the paramilitaries in their midst our evil and should be removed. If they did, it would be a start. If they refuse to do so, they have no business claiming they are men of peace and democracy – that is all there is to it.

    I do agree that other people could help too. The Sunday Life basically reads as “the life and times of our dashing paramilitaries” – it’s a disgraceful publication, reporting recently about how loyalist paramilitaries are there to “respond” to republican aggression. Clearly, there are people buying that paper and making it viable, so there are plenty of us out there who love reading about those loveable old rogues do when they’re not out murdering.

    Bertie, the paramilitaries ultimately effect everyone, most obviously in terms of how your rates and taxes are spent, the price of your insurance policies, and whether or not there’s a paramilitary-run bonfire blocking the entrance to your place of business in full view of all your prospective clients.

    heck, unionists haven’t killed the agreement, although they like to think that they have. The agreement has had the effect of shifting the political balance in NI, to a point where powersharing is the de facto accepted way to get things worked out, and where the DUP will now not rule out power sharing with a sufficiently reformed SF. That is considerably further than where we were ten years ago. I think the single matter that really buggers up people’s lives in Northern Ireland is ongoing paramilitarism and the lack of rule of law, and I think that problem is being sustained either by ambivalance or tolerance by our politicians. I guess my dream is for a Rudy Guiliani type figure to come in and clean it all up.

  • Wichser

    The Unionists didn’t kill the agreement. We all did.

    That is inaccurate, some of us didn’t support it in the first place, however what I am saying is that those who created and signed up to it should have sold it. With even a modicum of honesty. As McCann said in Thursday’s Beltel:

    “Trimble didn’t explain that the deal gave nationalism equal status with unionism within Northern Ireland, that under it nationalists would be entitled to an equal share of power in state institutions, and that this would have obvious implications for – to take a couple of random examples – the structure of the police force and the display of flags and emblems in public places or local government premises. No nonsense about “minimal changes” or silly suggestions that the Agreement preserved the “Britishness” of “Ulster.”

    The pay-off, Trimble might have gone on to argue, would be the security of the Union: nationalists who voted yes would be accepting that Northern Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom until such times as a majority here decided otherwise.

    Nationalist supporters of the Agreement might have made the parallel pitch that second-class citizenship would be abolished forever, sectarianism in policing made a thing of the past, equal access to office and influence guaranteed – in exchange for putting the aspiration to a united Ireland on hold until a six county majority for unity emerged. No fanciful flights about celebrating the centenary of 1916 in an all-Ireland republic.

    Both nationalist parties should acknowledge that they have accepted partition for as far forward as it is possible to see, and pro-Agreement unionists that Northern Ireland is no longer a British space but a shared unionist-nationalist entity within the UK. There is no ambiguity about the fact that this is what the Agreement requires.

    This is the solution which Sinn Fein, the SDLP and unionists around Reg Empey refer to when they talk of implementing the Agreement fully. If they are serious, they should begin belatedly to campaign for it, preferably jointly. If they are not serious, it’s time they told us what their alternatives are.”

    Sin e

  • bertie

    Can I just say I have found this a facinating and very important discussion(I can’t say thread as we seem to be straddling three threads with this conversation, but for me I think that it is working). I feel a definite sence of real engagement.

    CS

    Bar the first couple of sentences of your first paragraph (and we’ve already been down that road), here here as far as I am concerned.

    I can’t go along with your second for the reasons I support the first. I can accept that because someone has a past doesn’t mean that they can’t have a future but a repudiation of terrorism as a moral option not just as a redundant tactic has to be a key to government. I do not want the likes of Irvine in government, even if he could get enough people to vote for him, unless and until he radically changes his view of what he and his have done.

    I don’t beleive that the unionist electorate need to be told that the “loyalist” terrorists are evil, but I’ve absolulty no objection to hearing it, as long as its not done on the assumotion that I was not able to work it out for myself.

    Don’t have much knowledge of “Sunday Life”. Once a long time ago, it asked me to write a specific peice for it. I hadn’t actually heard of it before. I have very rarely looked at it inline but then you tend to go for the titles that interest me and so may have missed these. If I bring up the website will I easily pick them up or can you give me some links to specific stories.

    Re the gangsters affecting everyone. Thanks for the clarification. Of course you’re right and economic prosperity would threaten the power of these gangs who need people to have as few freedoms as possible. I suppose this interference doesn’t hit my emotional core in the way that their murders, maiming and intimidation of others does.

  • Basil McCrea

    Comrade Stalin
    Many of those people that voted for the agreement now regret it. Their vote for the DUP clearly indicated this. Which makes it difficult for the DUP to do a deal with SF. Even if they do I can’t see it lasting.

    I agree with thrust of your argument, but it is seven years too late. The moment has passed. There is no trust, no generousity of spirit, no unifying vision.

    We need new thinking. Probably super councils with enhanced responsibilities.

    Wichser
    Just because you didn’t support it in the first place, doesn’t mean that you didn’t help kill it. In fact many people who voted “No” will have worked to undermine the agreement.

    No problem with that per se but nobody offered an alternative that would have been more acceptable (apart from direct rule I suppose). Even the DUP ended up accepting the broad principles of the agreement. As you yourself say “it’s time they told us what their alternatives are.”

  • Wichser

    Basil

    Can you explain why you did not sell the agreement please ? After all the UUP would have been the ones taking the credit for cementing a republican acceptance that their project had failed and that they were now prepared to accept partition etc – why instead did you whinge and whine about aspects of an agreement that your party had signed up to that you knew your electorate wouldn’t like but could have stomached in the overall context of the fundamentals – ie the Provos lost and unionism won.

  • Basil McCrea

    Wichser
    Central to many of our current problems is the phrase “constructive ambiguity”. Pro agreement Unionist were led to believe that the RM needed room to manoeuvre on the issue of arms.

    Disarmament couldn’t be written into the agreement in detail but everybody “knew” what was expected. No doubt the republican side had a different perspective.

    Disarmament therefore was not about capability, it was about intent, trust and sincerity. For what ever reason, this couldn’t be achieved. It was an opportunity missed. It became a litmus test for the whole agreement.

    Personally, I believe that Northern Ireland faces many challenges including severe deprivation in some of our estates, an over reliance on the public sector for economic wealth and an education sector that must be refocused to meet the challenges of the future. It cannot address these issues effectively until we reach a stable political solution.

    It remains to be seen if the DUP and SF will reach agreement. If so, it is unlikely to contain much in the way of constructive ambiguity.

    In the meantime, the issues facing our community remain.

  • spirit-level

    How can the DUP tell the loyalist paramilitaries off, when that is the DUP’s ace card against SinnFein. A Neat bluff, why it hasn’t been called is part of the crap that goes for everyday life in norniron.

  • Comrade Stalin

    bertie, agreed, this is a constructive conversation.

    Basil,

    I don’t agree on several levels. To start with, you guys just lost the will to put forward the argument, due to structural problems in the UUP itself which had little to do with politics. Life is considerably better now than it was ten years ago, and that has a lot to do with the agreement. The Anglo Irish Agreement showed that the British government was more than willing to push ahead with things whether unionists liked it or not, and there was a major risk that the same kind of blow to unionism would occur again. I think Trimble understood this and tried to ensure that Unionism would have some sort of a say in what would transpire, knowing that it would be worse off if they fell back to the usual boycott tactics.

    The DUP has completely accepted the Agreement, the arguments they make are a lot more to do with semantics. The agreement was about achieving stability through institutional reform, agreed cross border bodies and powersharing. The DUP have accepted all of that despite spending 30 years rejecting all three of those concepts tooth and nail. The rest of the stuff is all window-dressing. Almost all of the prisoners would have been released by now without the Agreement, and the British government would probably have brought Patten in to reform the police anyway.

    I think the true reason for the decline in the agreement’s popularity is to do with the outlook of the electorate in NI being skewed by the divorced sense of responsibility it has. Because we are all basically bankrolled by the British government regardless of what way things go, we aren’t as motivated as we otherwise might be to drop the tribal thinking and try to make the state work in an agreed fashion.

    My personal opinion is that we’ve got to have an agreement that unionists and republicans can both freely endorse, and if that means a fresh round of all-party talks then so be it – let’s have a new document to put in front of the electorate, even if it amounts to little more than a face-saving exercise for the DUP. Now that the controversial matters of prisoners and police reform are out of the equation, we can try to produce a new document that properly covers disarmament/disbandment of all paramilitaries and the design of more stable powersharing structures.

  • spirit-level

    can we stop intellectualising this out of its arse.. its poker plain and simple.

  • Comrade Stalin

    bertie, you’re making the point “I don’t want people like that in government”, which is fair enough. But the trouble is that people like that exist in the two main unionist parties. I was reminded today of how William McCrea officiated at the funeral of the two UVF men who were killed during the Miami Showband massacre. I am wondering what the difference is between that and Gerry Adams carrying the coffin of Thomas Begley.

    Unionism does have a history of falling back on the paramilitaries and their methods when they sense it will be popular.

  • heck

    Moderate unionist

    “The Unionists didn’t kill the agreement. We all did.” That statement rates up there with “Mistakes were made” as a way of dodging the issue. Unionists killed the agreement when a majority of them voted for the DUP in the last election. It is the same as the majority of unionists killed the Sunningdale agreement when the voted for the same people.

    I agree with Wichser in his analysis of what the agreement meant; Unionist acceptance of nationalists as equals, republican acceptance of a constitutional status quo, until a majority was in favor of a united Ireland and an end to the armed struggle to achieve it. I think the vote for the DUP showed that the unionist community did not accept this deal.

    On the subject of violence and the unionist view on it (the original subject of this thread) I think that a lot of the unionist rhetoric on republican violence is one sided and hypocritical. They aren’t really that put out by loyalist violence (as long as it doesn’t affect them). The majority of the “paramilitary” violence emanates from the unionist community but their politicians latch on to republican violence to score points against “the other side.”

    Alan.

    “Rusty guns” is, I think, a simple statement of fact. The IRA arms have been in sealed dumps, under international control, for about a decade. The international inspectors, Martti Ahtisaari and Cyril Ramaphosa, would know if any IRA volunteers accessed them. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that no maintenance has been performed and that any chemicals have degraded,

    The issue of photographs is a red herring. Until I hear unionist politicians say they don’t believe General John de Chastelain I will continue to believe the photograph issue is just a way to kill the agreement. Unionist statements on violence are in the same vein.

    To return to Wichser’s point I think nationalists have accepted “that second-class citizenship would be abolished forever, sectarianism in policing made a thing of the past, equal access to office and influence guaranteed – in exchange for putting the aspiration to a united Ireland on hold until a six county majority for unity emerged.” Unionist have not accepted “that the deal gave nationalism equal status with unionism within Northern Ireland, that under it nationalists would be entitled to an equal share of power in state institutions, and that this would have obvious implications for – to take a couple of random examples – the structure of the police force and the display of flags and emblems in public places or local government premises”

    Calls for Orange marches in nationalist neighborhoods and photographs of arms decommissioning is about humiliating the other side not about making the agreement work.

  • bertie

    Comrade

    Mc Crea is not a politician I know much about and I don’t know anything about the funeral you mention or what the requirements of pastoral care is involved. After all clergymen do have to bury the bastards. Was it a funeral with terrorist trappings? I never assumed that priests who buried IRA terrorists necessarily supported their politics. Maybe Mc Crea also knew the family well. Maybe not maybe Mc Crea does not know the difference between right and wrong. I don’t have any reason to beleive that he himself was involved in any terrorism himself, whereas …..

    It is the the fact that Sinn Fein/IRA are the same orgainisation. Sinn Fein is the political wing of the IRA that is its essential nature. Re the UDP and PUP, I actually think that it is possible that they may not be a closely linked to current “loyalist” terrorism as the Sinn Fein is to the current IRA activity, but it is still enough to put them beyond the pale as far as I am concerned. Not. I’m sure that they will loose much sleep at that.

    Even given the fact (well I shall assume it as fact) that the vast number of Free Ps in NI are DUP supporters and the leader of one is the leader of the other, I do not consider the DUP and the Free Ps to be a unit in the same way as IRA/Sinn Fein.

    SL
    “can we stop intellectualising this out of its arse.. “

    the opportunity to intellectualise all manner of things out of their arses is ecactly what draws me to this site in the first place, so the answer to you question from me is – no I certainly can’t ;0)

  • bertie

    Comrade

    I also think that some members of the SDLP have cosied up very closely to the Sinn Fein/IRA and have not let terrorism get in the way of a pan-nationalist front. They have found it useful to play good cop/bad cop with them. Much as I deplore this I still don’t consider the link to IRA activity AS A PARTY, as organic as Sinn Fein. So in that sence the party comes in under the wire.

  • fair_deal

    Heck

    “Rusty guns” is, I think, a simple statement of fact. The IRA arms have been in sealed dumps, under international control, for about a decade. The international inspectors, Martti Ahtisaari and Cyril Ramaphosa, would know if any IRA volunteers accessed them. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that no maintenance has been performed and that any chemicals have degraded,”

    1. This is the 21st century it is possible to store weapons without them going rusty for decades.
    2. The monitoring of sites by the two individuals you mention stopped years ago. So there has been plenty of opportunity to carry out maintenance. Also there are a number of punishment shooting victims can attest to the fact that some of the IRA’s handguns are perfectly serviceable.

  • weeg

    There have been no ira punishment attacks for several months

  • aquifer

    Given the chance to vote for paramilitary linked parties, Unionists generally don’t. Through the troubles they tended to support the police in dealing with all paramilitarism legally, and it would be interesting if they were polled on what they thought the law should be doing with the various loyalist factions.

    Their politicans are not so particular though, and I have heard of one leading DUPer introducing paramilitaries onto community committees. Though there might be some constructive intent in this.

    Loyalist paramilitaries are much more criminal than political, so that it is harder to imagine them affecting political outcomes as PIRA might have done.

    Unionists voting for the DUP had more to do with frustration with SFPIRA failing to visibly come up with its decommissioning side of the GFA bargain, rather than a resistance to equality.

    It is the state’s job to suppress paramilitary gangs and civilians are entitled to expect the state to get on with it without becoming martyrs themselves.

    Not that I expect irish separatist paramilitaries to be happy with that.

    PS OK so they can’t bear to part with the guns or the gunmen. Maybe its a lifestyle thing. But don’t pretend that most Unionists feel the same way.

  • T.Ruth

    THERE ARE MANY UNIONISTS WHO HAVE CONSISTENTLY OPPOSED ALL SHADES OF ILLEGAL ORGANISATIONS AND WHO HAVE BEEN CONSTANT IN THEIR BELIEF THAT ANY DEALINGS WITH PARAMILITARIES IS A BETRAYAL OF THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS.I COME FROM THAT AREA OF EAST BELFAST NEAR ST.MATTHEWS AND NEVER FELT ANY ANIMOSITY TOWARDS ROMAN CATHOLICS WHO LIVED IN ADJACENT STREETS AND SHARED THE SAME LEVELS OF POST WAR DEPRIVATION AS THEIR PROTESTANT NEIGHBOURS.THE FASCIST SECTARIANISM OF THE REPUBLICAN MOVEMENT HAS BEEN THE MAJOR FACTOR IN DESTROYING THE FABRIC OF OUR SOCIETY AND POLARISING OUR COMMUNITY.LOYALIST PARAMILITARIES HAVE NO CREDIBILITY WITH THE VAST MAJORITY OF UNIONIST PEOPLE AND HAVE NO POLITICAL MANDATE TO SPEAK FOR ANYONE. THE ROMAN CATHOLIC COMMUNITY MUST REPUDIATE THE IRA BEFORE THERE CAN BE REAL PROGRESS. THERE IS NO PLACE IN THE EXECUTIVE LEVEL OF A RESPONSIBILITY SHARING GOVERNMENT FOR THUGS AND MURDERERS AND THEIR POLITICAL APOLOGISTS. POLITICAL PROGRESS SHOULD NOT BE DELAYED WHILE WE WAIT FOR THE IRA TO SEE THE LIGHT AND ACCEPT THE INEVITABLE.
    T.RUTH

  • Wichser

    T. Ruth

    Why are you shouting and what is ‘inevitable’ ?

  • thistle

    The large crowds of locals who attended the bonfire at Pitt Park on the Newtownards Road would show that a large proportion of that community do support the uvf.The huge cheers which reverberated round the area when the uvf fired automatic weapons into the air just before the lighting of the fire showed the strong support the paramilitary organisation have within the lower Newtownards Road area.

    The area is covered in uvf flags, with many residents flying these flags from their homes.

    Its up to both sides of the community to change the society and this must include those who support the sectarian killing machine of the uvf.

  • U Curtu

    Aquifer

    “Loyalist paramilitaries are much more criminal than political, so that it is harder to imagine them affecting political outcomes as PIRA might have done.”

    Two points in one if I might:

    Above I have tried to assert the idea that media, politicians and pop. in general should now stop using the term “paramilitary/ism” and all associated nomeclature in respect of all groups, since not only is it simply erroneous to accord terminology suggestive of armies, commanders, OCs, COs, brigades, etc with their attendant notions of discipline, control, and martial rigour to these individuals but it maintains the prevailing belief that they actually are persons in positions of leadership. Power does not equal leadership.

    I make this assertion in this thread because altho “loyalist paramilitarism” is perceived as the unionist blind spot, there is in fact a point of wider application, viz, the continuing failure of ‘political leaders’ on all sides to confront the reality of institutionalised gangsterism in their respective backyards is a blind spot with chronic implications.

    All the sophistry and cat-calling here about who’s to blame for the failure of the GFA is meaningless waffle while local mobsters continue to laugh in our faces.

    Unless gangsterism is tackled head-on we really are destined to become Sicilians in the rain; a palsied excuse for a people and a culture which could offer so much more but for our inveterate cowardice.

  • U Curtu

    Aquifer

    “Loyalist paramilitaries are much more criminal than political, so that it is harder to imagine them affecting political outcomes as PIRA might have done.”

    Two points in one if I might:

    Above I have tried to assert the idea that media, politicians and pop. in general should now stop using the term “paramilitary/ism” and all associated nomeclature in respect of all groups, since not only is it simply erroneous to accord terminology suggestive of armies, commanders, OCs, COs, brigades, etc with their attendant notions of discipline, control, and martial rigour to these individuals but it maintains the prevailing belief that they actually are persons in positions of leadership. Power does not equal leadership.

    I make this assertion in this thread because altho “loyalist paramilitarism” is perceived as the unionist blind spot, there is in fact a point of wider application, viz, the continuing failure of ‘political leaders’ on all sides to confront the reality of institutionalised gangsterism in their respective backyards is a blind spot with chronic implications.

    All the sophistry and cat-calling here about who’s to blame for the failure of the GFA is meaningless waffle while local mobsters continue to laugh in our faces.

    Unless gangsterism is tackled head-on we really are destined to become Sicilians in the rain; a palsied excuse for a people and a culture which could offer so much more but for our inveterate cowardice.

  • U Curtu

    Aquifer

    “Loyalist paramilitaries are much more criminal than political, so that it is harder to imagine them affecting political outcomes as PIRA might have done.”

    Two points in one if I might:

    Above I have tried to assert the idea that media, politicians and pop. in general should now stop using the term “paramilitary/ism” and all associated nomeclature in respect of all groups, since not only is it simply erroneous to accord terminology suggestive of armies, commanders, OCs, COs, brigades, etc with their attendant notions of discipline, control, and martial rigour to these individuals but it maintains the prevailing belief that they actually are persons in positions of leadership. Power does not equal leadership.

    I make this assertion in this thread because altho “loyalist paramilitarism” is perceived as the unionist blind spot, there is in fact a point of wider application, viz, the continuing failure of ‘political leaders’ on all sides to confront the reality of institutionalised gangsterism in their respective backyards is a blind spot with chronic implications.

    All the sophistry and cat-calling here about who’s to blame for the failure of the GFA is meaningless waffle while local mobsters continue to laugh in our faces.

    Unless gangsterism is tackled head-on we really are destined to become Sicilians in the rain; a palsied excuse for a people and a culture which could offer so much more but for our inveterate cowardice.

  • Dessertspoon

    Wow I’m sending this to the Norn Iron Tourist Board it would make a great slogan for their next brochure

    “Norn Iron – a palsied excuse for a people and a culture which could offer so much more but for inveterate cowardice.”

  • reality check

    Orange order grand master robert saulters called for the uda and uvf “to live with each other”.Hardly a call for them to disband.Perhaps he would prefer them to start killing innocent catholics again?

  • Christopher Stalford

    reality check (a misnomer surely?)

    No he didn’t. He called for an end to fueding and for people to live peaceably alongside each other. I heard his speech from start to finish and at no pint did he mention either of the organisations you have named.

  • Christopher Stalford

    point, not pint. D’oh!

  • bertie

    CS

    A delightful slip considering the issue of some orangemen using the occasion to drink to much ;0)

  • reality check

    he didn’t exactly tell them to go away,considering his sectarian outbursts before it’s hardly surprising

  • DavidH

    Heck: I actually though the agreement was working–2/3 of the republican arsenal was destroyed and British have gone part way to reforming the police.

    Where did you get the figure 2/3 from? I assumed it was about 5%, and have seen nothing to suggest it was any higher than that.

  • George

    To confront all the paramilitaries as Lindy exhorts implies there is a possibility of unity between “constitutional” nationalist and unionist to make Northern Ireland, as it is currently constituted under the GFA, work.

    This isn’t the case. Constitutional unionists have plumped for the DUP while constitutional nationalists have plumped for SF.

    Both want the GFA to work for their ends, not to work per se.

    Also, this all smacks of a return to the seventies when the last powersharing deal -Sunningdale – collapsed and the next step was the idea of criminalising the conflict. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now even if the conflict is on a tiny scale compared to 30 years ago.

    The idea of getting everyone to “admit” they were wrong in a past conflict in which they were involved reminds me of when old IRA man Dan Breen was asked if, in hindsight, he had any regrets. His answer was something along the lines of: “Yes, that I didn’t kill more of them.”

    The conflict made/moulded these people. It has made them what they are today. To eschew it would be to deny themselves. This is a situation we all have to live with.

    T.Ruth,
    republicanism is neither fascist nor sectarian. There are sectarian fascists who claim to be republican just like there are sectarian fascists who claim to be unionist.

  • reality check

    davidh -how many loyalist guns were decommissioned?How many are in use as we speak.The latter out weighs the former

  • Christopher Stalford

    Reality

    Are you now condemning him for something he didn’t do? You have demonstrated your totally difficient knowledge of what Bobby Saulters actually said on The Twelfth, bearing that in mind, how do you know he didn’t call for paramilitaries to disband?

    Clue: you don’t!

  • reality check

    cs-you being a mouthpiece for the dup,whats your view on uvf/uda/lvf?

  • reality check

    loyalists killed innocent catholics and got away with it.now they kill innocent protestants and get away with it.That’s my point

  • Christopher Stalford

    Reality

    There is no place in our society for any paramilitary groups. They should disband instantly and decommission all of their weapons, as well as ending all criminality and intimidation/punishment attacks.

    Thank you for fraing your question in such a pleasent and delicate manner. Perhaps now you could tell us if you can “sign up” to the staement above in relation to all paramilitaries?

  • Che

    A Case Study:

    All the following is true, the names/places have been changed to protect my windaes.

    Not so very long ago there was Council By election in an almost entirely Protestant/Unionist ward in a predominantly protestant/ unionist area.

    At around the same time as the election a Flags and emblems ‘controversy’ blew up in a new private housing development in the ward.

    It transpired that loyalist paramilitary group ‘A’ erected their flegs at entrance and throughout the estate (plus Ulster flags) to mark some sort of parade they were intending to have.

    Bit of an outcry ensued, and the local police chief took the decision to remove the flags. Group A responded by be decking entire area with Ulster Flags (this was not during the Marching season BTW). Most were again removed by police.

    Unionist Party ‘B’ made public statements supporting actions of police, supporting local residents against unwelcome invasion by paramilitary elements, and condemned misuse of flags.

    Unionist Party ‘C’ criticized the local police action (on DPP) as being insensitive and provocative, pointing out that there was a Irish Tricolur flying unmolested in a ‘republican area’ 15 miles away. This was the same line used by the ahem political ‘research’ group speaking on behalf of para group ‘A’.

    Candidate for party ‘B’ made issue of this incidemnt, strongly condemning group ‘A’ and accusing group ‘C’ of sucking up to group ‘A’. Also canvassed estate twice and produced specific canvass literature supporting police, attacking paramilitary group A and emphasizing solidarity with the good people of the development.

    Result in the election party ‘B’ was outvoted 3 to 1 by party ‘C’ out of the 10% of residents who dragged themselves to the polls.

    What does this prove?
    … not too sure, but giving local hoods/ paras a hard time was not a great vote winner in that nice middle class suburb.

  • DavidH

    Reality Check: how many loyalist guns were decommissioned?How many are in use as we speak.The latter out weighs the former

    Heck made a claim – 2/3 of the republican arsenal decommissioned. I wondered if Heck could support the claim.

    According to the IICD loyalists have decommissioned “four sub-machine guns, two rifles, two pistols, a sawn-off shotgun, 348 rounds of ball ammunition, 31 shotgun shells, five electrical detonators, two pipe bombs, two weapons stocks and five assorted magazines.”

    I suppose that might be more than the IRA, unless you have some information to contribute.

  • blinkers

    “There is no place in our society for any paramilitary groups. They should disband instantly and decommission all of their weapons, as well as ending all criminality and intimidation/punishment attacks.”

    cs

    Why does Sammy Wilson have such respect for the uvf.He has appeared on a uvf stage as a guest speaker, commemorating the terrorists of the uvf and red hand commando.

    The red hand commando are the heroes who battered a young woman called Margaret Wright to death in a band hall in Sandy Row, because they thought she was a Catholic.

    They then proceeded to strip the body before stuffing her into a wheelie bin and dumping the body over the back wall of a derelict house.

    How can a DUP politician justify such an appearance. ?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/817946.stm

  • T.Ruth

    George
    My apologies for my lack of precision.
    I have always made a distinction in my own mind between Nationalists and Republicans and made the mistake of applying my personal differentiation process. in general it seems to me that both want a united Ireland. Nationalists to my mind seem prepared to make their case along democratic lines. Republicans on the other hand are prepared to condone bombing and murdering and criminality in their support for their armed struggle which makes them sectarian and fascist in my book. Are their large numbers of Republicans out there opposed to armed struggle?
    T.Ruth

  • Jacobin

    T Ruth

    Yes I am one.

    PIRA/SF are not republicans in the Tone/Emmett sense. They are merely irredentists who care not one whit for liberty, equality and fraternity (the essential, traditional elements of republicanism) unless it applies solely to those of an catholic, nationalist bent.

    They have appropriated the term ‘republican’ in a way which is wholly unacceptable to those of us non-unionists who find their casuistical approach to political analysis at best distasteful.

    The PIRA/SF position is now philosophically and ideologically bankrupt. Serious self-reflection of their position is required if they expect to be taken seriously not just at home but further afield.

    No, I am not a Stickie. Just fed up with listening to the creaking SF bilge pump.

    And a peace-loving republican.

  • fair_deal

    Moderate Unionist

    “I’ve been meaning to endorse your post 11:59 for some time. Perhaps it needs a joint approach by the UUP and the DUP?”

    Thanks for that. Yes I agree it needs a joint approach by the two main Unionist parties and key groups beyond the political parties – churches, loyal orders etc. Hoping it will fade away is not going to work.

  • spirit-level

    Jacobin
    My sentiments exactly
    T.Ruth
    I make the same distinction as you.

  • Moderate Unionist

    fair deal
    I agree, it needs to be seen as something that nobody attempts to make political capital out off but it does need to be visible (i.e. we can’t just work behind the scenes). Having a united front that includes the loyal orders and the churches would also be very important.

  • reality check

    I believe you to be refering to the craigyhill estate in larne where the paramilitary flags where flying and carnlough where the irish tricolour was flying.You’ve rightly exposed larne for what it is

  • fair_deal

    Moderate Unionist

    It will be such a long and difficult process that I don’t think there will be a lot of political capital or credit to be gained certainly in the short-term. Behind the scenes has its role – a period of internal debate leading to a very clear and public action plan.

  • Moderate Unionist

    fair deal
    I would go along with the structure of what you are suggesting, but why do you think it would be a lengthy process?

    The problem I see, is that any strategy the local politicians come up with might not fit in with the NIO thinking. They (the NIO) may believe that paramilitaries have more effective reach in the estates than the politicians. If we are to tackle the issue we would need genuine concensus (which may take some time to achieve) and then swift action. IMHO.

  • fair_deal

    MU

    Any consensus in Unionism will take time especially if you want it to be a positive consensus and it needs to be much more sophisticated than the usual ‘Give us more money’. The roots of paramilitarism run very deep in too many communities, the removal of such will take a long time.

    I agree the NIO’s interests may not coincide with ours, that simply demonstrates the different strategic interests between Unionism and the NIO (We desire our community to adavcne, they don;t care as long as its ‘quiet’. It is also why Unionism needs a return to devolution so the NIO’s influence diminishes and it is in a position to implement an action plan.

  • bertie

    FD & MU

    If a real action plan can be developed, NIO may have a problem resisting it. The sooner the ground is laid the better.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Fair Deal
    Agreed.

    Bertie
    It’s time to use your neutrality and get it set up 🙂

  • bertie

    MU
    LOL (in the “laughed out loud” sense as opposed to the OO sence). Although to be honest it has got me thinking ………

  • T.Ruth

    We have all experienced making a mistake by taking a wrong turn. The best way to make progress is to go back and find the correct road. For that reason we need a new Agreement which can win the support of the majority of our people and hopefully a majority in Unionist and non Unionist camps. No one should be involved in discussions if they are not prepared to use totally democratic methods to advance their case and have repudiated violence. No one should be involved in discussions who cannot accept the PSNI as the legitimate police service. No one should be involved in discussions who is not prepared to offer all possible information to the families of the disappeared and the victims of violence. No one could be included who is connected in any way with paramilitary crime and terrorism or who is connected with a private army.. Responsibility for Policing and Justice should not be devolved until the community is consulted and agrees that it may happen. Unionists have no problem accepting devolution but it is time for the concessions to violent Republicanism to stop.Lets have a period devoted to building Unionist confidence in the institutions of government.
    T.Ruth

  • blinkers

    christopher stalford

    Still waiting for a reply on Sammy Wilson’s appearance as guest speaker at a uvf/rhc rally.

    I’m curious to find out your personal opinion on this episode, would you support such an appearance, would you condemn it ??

  • george

    fair deal

    “Any consensus in Unionism will take time”

    The orange order have no problems dealing with the loyalist paramilitaries, thats for sure.

    Senior Orangeman Deputy Grand Master McMurdie, when interviewed on BBC on Monday 11th regarding links between the Order and the various loyalist paramilitary gangs, said: ‘They are on our side. We might not agree with everything they do but they have been helpful to brethren in north and west Belfast, and continued to defend Orange Order refusal to talk to residents.”