THE DUP is still coming under fire for not doing enough to combat sectarian attacks in the Ballymena area, and with a loyalist parade in Rasharkin tomorrow night, more trouble is expected from the knuckledraggers behind the violence. Concerned about future republican activity, the DUP is saying plenty about the imminent demise of the RIR and police station closures. Yet it has said comparatively little about those who present the biggest threat to both its unionist voters and Catholic constituents in North Antrim – the loyalists that DUP politicians were content to be seen mingling with in Ballymena recently. If the DUP expended half the energy it does on giving off about the IRA threat of violence (real or imagined) and channelled it into ending loyalist attacks, we might get somewhere.
Nevertheless, PA reported that a DUP spokesman said his party was treating Gerry Kelly’s comments “with contempt”, given his background.
“Sinn Fein/IRA has terrorised the community for 35 years spreading violence and criminality,” the spokesman said.
“Even yet they refuse to give information to the police.
“The DUP position on all attacks is clear. Our representatives have condemned wholeheartedly all such attacks and have asked anyone with information to help the police.”
The position is so clear that we had photographs in the Press of Councillor Robin Sterling of the DUP’s ‘spiritual wing’ standing beside someone waving a UDA flag the other night at a loyalist protest against a republican parade in Ballymena.
Perhaps the DUP is afraid of losing support in its terrorist-supporting fanbase.
So even when Paisley finally did speak out against the widespread campaign of loyalist intimidation against his constituents, it rang somewhat hollow.
Paisley said: “Last week when the mayor (of Ballymena, DUP councillor Tommy Nicholl) unreservedly condemned any and all such attacks, he spoke with the authority of my party and it goes without saying that I too condemn these attacks and call for them to end.”
It most certainly does not “go without saying” that Mr Paisley condemns loyalist attacks, since his words have contributed to them happening in the past. On holiday or not, there’s little doubt Mr Paisley should have had plenty to say about a low-level terrorist campaign in his adopted home town.
Equally, when the PSNI officer responsible for policing Ahoghill – where many of the loyalist attacks have taken place recently – remarks that “[t]here`s no doubt that there`s an element of sectarianism, but also an element of people just not getting on with each other”, one wonders what exactly churches and schools have to do with any disputes between individuals.
Such attacks on identifibly ‘Catholic’ targets are naked sectarianism, and while they may not have the sanction of any organisation (or even if they do), it does not absolve the PSNI of the fact that they are policing a very small village with next to nothing to show for their investigation.