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.
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.