Time to call the paramilitary bluff?

Lindy McDowell certainly doesn’t pussyfoot around in her suggestion as to what to do about the latest outburst of Loyalist violence. But that’s what she accuses the government of doing. She argues that the people behind the orchestration of violence and intimidation are not known to the public, but are to the security forces:

…the only thing these men are loyal to are themselves – to their own hip pockets, their own vanity, their own position. They leach off the community from which they come. And in the name of that community they order acts of yellow barbarity that shame the very name “loyalist.” From the so-called low-level acts of cowardly intimidation like daubing obscenities on a chapel door, through driving innocent people from their homes, right through to the murder of innocent Catholics. And the most shocking, sickening aspect of all this? It’s been going on for years and years and years. And there seems to be no end of it in sight. For quite simply, there appears to be no-one in authority with the will to stop it.

She suggests the authorities should simply move in and arrest them. And she ventures a few guesses on why it’s not happened thus far:

If the Government were to move against these organisations they could, in fact, count on massive support from within that community. The Government’s problem is about being seen to move unilaterally against one set of terrorist leaders. In other words, if they scoop the loyalists, might they not come under pressure to scoop the republicans? Is that where the problem lies?

Does it come down to the old truth that the paramilitary organisations on both sides are mutually dependent? That they each use the existence of the other lot to justify their own existence? And we go along with this… Isn’t it time that, as a society, we called all their bluff?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

Living History 1968-74

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