IRA leaving Catholics undefended

Damien Kiberd welcomes the IRA’s move, but he argues that they may have left Catholic populations in Northern Ireland. It’s probably true that that is a thought in many peoples’ mind in the light of their historical experience. Although as Father Brian D’arcy pointed out on RTE this afternoon, the ‘Pogroms’ of 1969 were actively backed by individual B Specials – a situation that no longer applies.

  • Henry94

    If the loyalist mob decides to turn on its Catholic neighbour, then who will protect those who are targets? It is by no means clear.

    That is the danger. But someone had to make a leap of faith. Let’s see how it goes.

  • Richard Delevan

    I think ye mean Damien, not Declan, Kiberd. Dec is probably perusing a volume of Anglo-Irish poetry as we speak. Damo is probably dodging phone calls from people in Newstalk while he imbibes a celebratory sherry.

  • Denny Boy

    Decommissioning was a calculated risk taken by the IRA. But somebody had to ‘jump’ first, to paraphrase Gerry Adams. I’m delighted the IRA did.

    If loyalists continue the violence then it will be more obvious than ever to Ireland, Britain and the rest of the world who the bad boys really are. The unionist leaders will have no choice but to rein in their thuggish colleagues. If they don’t, they lose all credibility.

  • fair_deal

    Denny boy

    “The unionist leaders will have no choice but to rein in their thuggish colleagues. If they don’t, they lose all credibility.”

    There is no equivalent relationship between a Unionist political party and a loyalist paramilitary organisation that there is between SF and the PIRA. The closest parallel was the PUP and UVF and in recent months the PUP have been told were to go.

  • fair_deal

    The same argument is used in reverse in loyalist communities and equally pointless. It’s always easier to find excuses and rationales for not doing something.

  • circles

    C’mon now fair_deal – we can stop the pretence that there are no links and that the unionist parties are in no position to call the dogs to heel.
    The onus is now most certainly on unionist politicians to actualy DO soemthing positive now (although that does not mean they actually will).

  • George

    You can’t protect Catholics in NI without the full support of the PSNI.

    The pogroms of the late 60s and the murder rate of subsequent loyalist death squads are proof of that.

    If protecting Catholics is the priority, then the IRA should not be maintaining a private militia to protect Catholics but ensuring whatever state violence is necessary is used to defend them from attack.

    Chicken and egg but the PSNI can only fulfil this role if the IRA is absent.

    Naturally, a police force willing to use such force to protect Catholics or the rule of law will run into conflict with certain unionist groupings who believe they can use violence to achieve their ends.

  • Baluba

    Good post Denny. Right on the money as I see it. Diane Dodds and Ruth Patterson have both said recently that htey have to work with loyalist paramilitaries in ‘protestant’ areas, now lets see and hear some very vocal pressure on them to give up their weapons. I’m sure very many people in their own areas would rest a lot easier at night not to mention Irish nationalists and those living at interfaces!

    Sad to say though, that Bob Mc Cartney was already being negative before de Chastelain had even finished taking questions. I suspect (but hope against hope that I’m wrong) that Bob is doing exactly what the DUP will do.

    Anyone taking a wager that the new big word and be all and end all of Norn Iron politics will now be ‘criminality’?

  • Jocky

    Henry94, I think it is pretty clear who will protect the Catholic population. Maybe time for SF to reconsider it’s position re policing if it is that concerned.

    Do you think there is a genuine danger of the PSNI standing back leaving the catholic population undefended?

    I think you may be surprised.

    Call me a cynic but unfortunately it is something that will no doubt be tested by section so of the loyalist community who will look to test the ceasefire. hope Im wrong as they seem more intent on killing each other nowadays.

    I read somewhere (BBC?) that the IRA would retain a catchet of small arms? for internal housekeeping no doubt, is this a byproduct of the process that will end up legitimising the IRA as a crimial gang? or a neccessary small step on the road to normalisation? a detail to be looked at later?

  • fair_deal

    Circles

    I was specific in what I said. There is no equivalent relationship (i.e. the cross-over in membership and leadership, organic parts of the same political movement) so the aim of getting rid of loyalist paramilitaries, worthy and needed though it is, cannot be achieved in the same way.

  • Henry94

    Jocky

    Do you think there is a genuine danger of the PSNI standing back leaving the catholic population undefended?

    I think it is a danger. They haven’t done much about the ongoing sectarian attacks. They offered people fire-blankets in one case. I hope we’re not going to be offered bullet proof vests if it gets worse.

    Wait and see is the best option but a lot of us feel a bit less secure today even as we welcome the development.

  • slug

    I hope that all politicians, including nationalists, will make a prioroty of loyalist decommissioning. It is in the Agreement.

  • Jocky

    point taken, I knew there was some recent example of extremely poor policing but I had an early start today.

    I was thinking more along the lines the response to the Loyalist rioting, does that not inspire some confidence?

    TBH, Im a little surprised you response is to feel a little less secure. Is this due to personnal experience, or a more general/communal feeling?

    On a more random note, does this mean there is a large hole(s) in the ground filled with concrete somewhere? Whose land would it have been buried on? Someone must have delivered the concrete it, would they have signed OSA and the Irish equivalent? would be surprised if something didn’t leak out, even just to muddy the waters

  • Concerned Loyalist

    I don’t believe the IRA ever did “defend Catholics”. They exerted control over Roman Catholic areas to pursue their own selfish aims-racketeering just one of these. Anyone that stood up to them was usually found in waste ground in close proximity to a republican ghetto, with a bullet through their head…they didn’t defend McCartney did they?

  • susan

    The loyalist paramilitaries loathe the DUP & even more so the UUP. Their view is that they have been used and betrayed by the likes of Paisley. Unionists politicians should be more unambiguous in condemning the loyalist paramiltaries but as for having any influence on them forget it! One of the reasons the loyalist paramilitaries are so out of control is that they are completely alienated from the political process.

  • fair_deal

    Republicans have not been shy about causing trouble at interfaces either.

    However, I have serious doubts about the PSNI’s ability to deliver.

    The fire blankets decision was shameful and at Glenbryn the PSNI sat in eight landrovers and watched the windows of four protestant homes be smashed in by a nationalist mob.

  • Henry94

    Jocky

    TBH, Im a little surprised you response is to feel a little less secure. Is this due to personal experience, or a more general/communal feeling?

    I wouldn’t put it stronger than a vague feeling and I’m not paying too much attention to it. It would be great to see some reprocial gesture from loyalists. It would help the atmosphere no end

  • Baluba

    ‘They exerted control over Roman Catholic areas to pursue their own selfish aims-racketeering just one of these. Anyone that stood up to them was usually found in waste ground in close proximity to a republican ghetto, with a bullet through their head…’

    Nonsense mate. If they had no support from the community how did they exist and operate for so long and so successfully? Presumably if you’re right, there would have been hundreds upon hundreds of these bodies with bullets through their head, which their weren’t.

    Read something about the history of the IRA please, will you and especially about the pogroms. I suspect you think that didn’t happen either. Wakey, wakey mucker.

  • BogExile

    Some Catholics were so defended that they were chained to vehicles filled with bombs and then protected to death when they exploded.

    But the cruel truth is that the PSNI can’t defend their way out of a wet paper bag. This is because the ‘policing service’ (jesus, that smug little construct makes we want to chew my arms)has been eviscerated of all moral and tactical capability to give the Spides what they and the genetically unchallenged in their communities so desperately need e.g. a good ‘defending’ into the nearest prison.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Concerned Loyalist: “I don’t believe the IRA ever did “defend Catholics”. They exerted control over Roman Catholic areas to pursue their own selfish aims-racketeering just one of these. Anyone that stood up to them was usually found in waste ground in close proximity to a republican ghetto, with a bullet through their head…they didn’t defend McCartney did they?”

    McCartney has more to do with drunks in a bar than the Troubles. Both sides paramilitaries have taken on aspects of organized criminal organizations, or hadn’t you noticed?

    As for “defending Catholic areas, isn’t that one of the arguements why the IRA *HAS* to be the hoods in the Great Northern Bank bank heist — the Prods thugs wouldn’t dare go into the IRA’s patch, not even for millions in specie, lest the mean ole Taigs get ’em? As for needing defending, do you honestly want to tell me that those Catholic churches in ’68/’69 simply spontaneously combusted?

  • Biffo

    fair_deal

    “..There is no equivalent relationship (i.e. the cross-over in membership and leadership, organic parts of the same political movement)..”.

    The way most people would see it – the cross over occurs in the likes of the Orange Order which contains paramilitary and political members – for which there is no nationalist equivalent.

    Very obviously you’ve got a parades forum that acts as an umbrella for OO, paramilitary, political members and others

    They showed fairly tight discipline in the violence of a couple of a couple of weeks ago. Instead of comdeming the paramilitary elements, the political and OO elements maintained solidarity.

    What about a decommisioning forum composed of the same elements who’ve often proved that they can work to the same agenda?

  • fair_deal

    Biffo

    “The way most people would see it – the cross over occurs in the likes of the Orange Order which contains paramilitary and political members – for which there is no nationalist equivalent.”

    Most people are wrong. The fractionalism in Unionist communities means that any unity tends to be fleeting, rivalry’s enduring. The OO maintains linkages across the urban/rural, party political and class boundaries of Unionism largely by not doing very much and trying to avoid areas of controversy within Unionism.
    The OO does have a nationalist equivalent its called the GAA.

    “Instead of comdeming the paramilitary elements, the political and OO elements maintained solidarity.”

    Not true the violence was condemned.

    “you’ve got a parades forum that acts as an umbrella for OO, paramilitary, political members and others”

    The Parades forum only exists in a restricted geographical area and whether it is a successful model is still a significant question. It managed the situation on the Crumlin Road well in the face of republican violence but not elsewhere.

    “What about a decommisioning forum”

    A positive suggestion but the Loyalist Commission’s failure to deliver so far would make bring into question whether a broader forum would do any better.

    I must admit I have tried to think of how deparamilitarisation of loyalist communities can be achieved but I am not yet managed to convince myself about my ideas to offer them up here. I just know it needs to happen and fast.

  • stu

    Mr Kirbid’s comments are, at best, unhelpful, and, at worst, the same blind ‘eye-for-an-eye’ rhetoric I normally expect from Paisley and his cronies.

    Referring to the PSNI as loyalism’s ‘customised security force’ further undermines efforts over the past 8 years to reform policing in Northern Ireland. Granted, there is still much to do in terms of equality, but when one considers the 50% Catholic/50% ‘others’ recruitment policy, the name change from the RUC to the more representive PSNI and the fact that the B Specials were most often represented as such (ie. a loyalist security force operating with the consent of the British government), this smacks of the ‘no-compromise, nothing is ever enough’ view that the DUP are all too fond of. Considering the distaste that most in the South feel for the DUP and their rhetoric, could this not be a bold act of hypocrisy?

    As for the idea that the IRA was armed due to a ‘practical need to defend Catholic districts’ and not for all-Ireland unity, I suppose that explains why the British Army were welcomed with open arms when they were deployed to Belfast, and all of the subsequent murders of Catholics in the RUC. As someone who has had first-hand experience with the reprecussions of such (Gabrial Mullaly, February 1989), I find it offensive that Kirbid is able to discard the efforts of fine men from both sides of the community to ensure that we all lived in as safe an environment as was manageable in the climate of the time. And what about all the ‘occupied 6 counties’ speechifying? Was the IRA just being considerate of the RUC and presenting a line which would draw support for their interior policing? Hardly.

    Disarming is not a dangerous move, it is an act of reason, and I hope to God (being from the Protestant community and ostensibly Unionist) that the Loyalist paramilitaries will follow suit, immediately.

    Mr Kirbid’s comments should have been aimed at engagin both sides to let the official, trained police to do their job. If it wasn’t for the IRA/UDA/UVF etc etc enforcing de facto mob rule their job would have been a lot easier at the interface points etc mentioned.

  • victor1

    “The unionist leaders will have no choice but to rein in their thuggish colleagues. If they don’t, they lose all credibility.”

    What credibility, they have had no credible input to the success of politics on these shores since thier inception they are failures and will be shown as such!

  • Shore Road Resident

    Jaw-droppingly dreadful piece by Mr Kiberd.
    It would be bad enough if the IRA actually had defended Catholic areas from loyalist attacks over the years – but it never did, once. (The Short Strand was the Officials, as Jim Gibney repeatedly fails to remember.)
    You really wonder what sort of an impression of the north a comfortable southern armchair general like Kiberd must have. Apart from the wrong impression, obviously. When the Shinners sign up to policing as well that should really wipe the smug grin off his face (and Ian Og’s too, which will give the whole thing a nice symmetry.)
    Meanwhile I really think the SF PR department should take a closer look at some of their media fellow-travellers. If the intention is to make Gerry look like a moderate compared to his mouthpieces then mission accomplished. Otherwise they might like to teach a few more people how to hold a pencil.

  • Biffo

    Fair_deal

    The GAA is not anything like the OO, there is no religious qualification for membership

    Some “spokesmen” condemned the violence most didn’t, the OO, the paramilitaries and the politicians will continue to make common cause in the future as they have done in the past.

    “I must admit I have tried to think of how deparamilitarisation of loyalist communities can be achieved but I am not yet managed to convince myself about my ideas to offer them up here.”

    Interesting – what are your ideas?

  • fair_deal

    “The GAA is not anything like the OO, there is no religious qualification for membership”

    I am aware there is no religious qualification for the GAA that does not stop them being equivalent organisations simply not mirror images of one another. They both combine a localised and common identity. They have a spread of membership (although the Orange’s would nowadays be patchier that the GAA) across urban/rural, party identification or none, class etc. They are both the largest voluntary communicators of identity in their respective communities.

    “what are your ideas?”

    My thinking is too half-baked at the moment so if I presented them they would not be a coherent package and I am torn between macro and micro initiatives were the balance lies with them.

    I also often wonder if there is much point thinking about the topic as I believe that too many in loyalist paramilitaries are yanking our chains and they have no intention of going away.

  • Brian Boru

    No matter what the PIRA does, the Unionists will refuse to share power. The reason is bigotry. They need to drag their attitudes into the 21st century. Their attitudes to Catholics resemble those of the 1600’s. I am so bored of listening to them moaning perpetually.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Unionists voted to share power in 1998. Then they got shafted. Now they will take their time to come around. Not all of this can be attributed to pure bigotry and it sounds suspiciously like pure bigotry to claim otherwise.

  • fair_deal

    I am so bored of listening to them moaning perpetually.

    Pot kettle black

  • Brian Boru

    “Unionists voted to share power in 1998. Then they got shafted. “

    How were they shafted? The Unionists chose to interpret the agreement as meaning “decommission first, then setup Executive”. The GFA said “within 2 years”. It was Unionists forever shifting the goal-posts – in reality to keep the “Romanists” out of power that has been the problem. Maybe all the arsenal would have been decommissioned by 2000 rather than today if the Unionists had stayed put in the Executive for the full 2 yrs but no.

  • JT

    I don’t think that very many Unionists have any problems with sharing power with moderate Nationalists – in fact the DUP put forward the idea of sharing power with the SDLP this year – the problem lies in sharing power with Sinn Fein – though today should be a big step in that direction in my opinion.

  • Brian Boru

    Well JT,it isn’t realistic to expect the SDLP to go ahead with the result being that the majority of Nationalists are excluded. It was destroy them within their electorate.

  • dave

    Perhaps the orange order could put some pressure on their friends within the uvf to follow the example of the provos.

    Orange order members like convicted uvf butcher Eddie McIlwaine still holds some control over the uvf.

  • Comrade Stalin

    There is no equivalent relationship between a Unionist political party and a loyalist paramilitary organisation that there is between SF and the PIRA. The closest parallel was the PUP and UVF and in recent months the PUP have been told were to go.

    What you are saying is that the only kind of relationship with paramilitaries which is anti-democratic is the one that Sinn Fein have. Your position is that if you have a link with paramilitaries, it is not a problem provided it is not a direct link in the way that Sinn Fein’s is. That’s bullshit, pure and simple. A person who is committed to peaceful means unequivocally supports the police – the UUP and DUP do not. A person who is committed to democracy will never sit on a forum alongside people whose only strength comes from their guns, in the way that the UUP and DUP do.

    The DUP are closely linked with paramilitarism. They are not part of the same whole, but they’re good friends. They sit on the North and West Belfast Parades Forum, alongside members of two organizations which have recently been involved in killing Protestants. In fact between them, the UDA and UVF – who Diane Dodds says are a part of the community that she has to work with (why can’t they be boycotted in the same way Sinn Fein are?) – have killed more Protestants in the past 10 years than the IRA have. Why is it OK to get in dialogue with one organization which kills Protestants, but not another ? Why does an armed group, by virtue of it’s arms, find itself entitled to say in affairs such as parades ? Why is the DUP elevating these unelected people and supporting their efforts to achieve influence ?

    The closest parallel was the PUP and UVF and in recent months the PUP have been told were to go.

    If loyalists have been categorically rejected by the unionist electorate, why do unionists keep inviting them into little organizations here and there ? Why do unionists find it so difficult to condemn their activities or call for stiff action from the police to remove them ? Why on earth would unionists see a role in the community for people whom the community have spurned ?

    Let’s cut the crap here, fair_deal. Lots of unionists quite like and support the UVF. The DUP quite like them too (indeed a few DUP members are former UVF members with terrorist convictions), and they will not alienate themselves either from UVF supporters or from the UVF themselves. UVF supporters are well aware that the DUP are far cleverer politicians than Ervine is, and the fact that they would rather vote DUP than PUP tells us a hell of a lot about both parties. Don’t you think ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    JT revisionized:

    I don’t think that very many Unionists have any problems with sharing power with moderate Nationalists

    Oh, don’t give me this old crap again. If unionists were so into powersharing why hasn’t it happened ? They had 23 years after 1972 to do it without Sinn Fein. Why did they refuse ?

  • ron

    “It would be bad enough if the IRA actually had defended Catholic areas from loyalist attacks over the years – but it never did, once. (The Short Strand was the Officials, as Jim Gibney repeatedly fails to remember.)”

    srr

    You don’t read much, do you?

  • SlugFest

    srr:

    “It would be bad enough if the IRA actually had defended Catholic areas from loyalist attacks over the years …”

    Why, exactly? Should the nationalist community have let the loyalists kill even more of their neighbors? What exactly is your (and i use this term loosely, clearly) ‘thinking’ on this? Please clarify, if you can.

  • Denny Boy

    “I don’t think that very many Unionists have any problems with sharing power with moderate Nationalists”

    Let me remind you once again what nice Mr Paisley said on the occasion of the appointment of Sean Farren, SDLP, to the Executive in 1999:

    “They have handed over the education of your children from day one until they graduate from university to IRA/Sinn Fein and to the SDLP,” he said.

    “We will never rest until we rid this country of IRA/Sinn Fein and all other brands of terrorism.”

    Need any more convincing? What’s that you say, he’s changed his mind? Paisley the bigot?

  • looking in

    the problem lies in sharing power with Sinn Fein

    looking in as an outsider – and trying not to be a pompous tool but I’d have thought that any party with circa 1/4 of vote shared alongside the other 3 parties and in fact being largest of their faction/persuasion is entitled to power-sharing if that is the game in town.

    it is staggering that in some peoples view that ONE vote for a party is worth LESS than ONE vote for another – just what model of democracy is this supposed to be … Mugabe’s?

  • fair_deal

    Comrade Stalin

    “What you are saying is that the only kind of relationship with paramilitaries which is anti-democratic is the one that Sinn Fein have. Your position is that if you have a link with paramilitaries, it is not a problem provided it is not a direct link in the way that Sinn Fein’s is. That’s bullshit, pure and simple”

    The bullshit is from you I am afraid I said no such thing and it is clear you misunderstood my response.

    I believe the type of relationship between SF and the IRA in one movement/one leadership made the shifts in policy and tactics easier to deliver. There is no direct equivalent in Unionism so the delivery of the same end result is not as simple or straighforward. I made no value judgement.

    If they are such good friends, have such great working relationships, cross-over in membership, why do the paramilitary publications/leadership/”community” spokespersons give the Unionist parties dog’s abuse? How many times did An phoblacht describe GA and MM as useless? Read some of the pieces post the Springfield Road riots – there were few/no compliments flying in the direction of the politicians.

    “UVF supporters are well aware that the DUP are far cleverer politicians than Ervine is, and the fact that they would rather vote DUP than PUP tells us a hell of a lot about both parties. Don’t you think ?”

    Again it is not a simple as you present it. In my personal experience of paramilitary members/supporters a significant proportion if not a majority don’t vote (The turnouts in loyalist working class communities at election would offer some independent evidence for this)

    “why do unionists keep inviting them into little organizations here and there ? Why do unionists find it so difficult to condemn their activities or call for stiff action from the police to remove them ? Why on earth would unionists see a role in the community for people whom the community have spurned ?”

    It ultimately comes down to two things.
    Unionist attitudes to violence – There are three views towards violence explicit support, implicit support and rejection. Explicit support from the late 70’s to late 90’s didn’t do that well in Unionist community. Implicit support always did better ‘Yes but…”. A significant proportion and especially in the non-greater Belfast rejected it utterly.

    Loyalist paramilitaries have recruited young people and filled their heads full of crap about what great organisations they are how it was them that defended Ulster etc etc. A significant proportion of their new membership was also “press-ganged” – “You did this, take a beating or join us”. (Most of which they did during their ‘pro-agreement’ phase and when they were being given every encouragement by government.)

    Loyalist paramilitaries have also played successfully on the fears of the implicit supporters of violence. “You might not like us but if them’uns come up that road you need us to protect you. The police and army won’t do it” Interface violence helped this flourish. Plus disaffection with the value of the political process has lead to a perception/belief violence/threats of violence gets dividends. Implicit supporters won’t vote for them but they turn blind-eyes and a blind eye is enough to allow them to stay.

    A lack of electoral support does not mean you do not have power and the loyalist paramilitaries have substantial negative power in communities. This is why the government and Irish government keep talking to them.

    Their actions were condemned.

    “They had 23 years after 1972 to do it without Sinn Fein.”

    It was the moderate nationalists which boycotted the Prior assembly not unionists.
    When Paisley and Fitt were discussing power-sharing in the Atkins talks Hume began to make his move to get Fitt out.
    Power-sharing needs two and on at least two occassions it was the nationalists who didn’t turn up.

  • fair_deal

    Correction

    late 70’s to late 80’s (not 90’s)

  • frank

    fd

    Are the orange order setting a good example to young people by glorifying a uvf murderer at parades.?

  • Brian Boru

    It is not for Unionists to choose who represents Nationalists.

  • Comrade Stalin

    If they are such good friends, have such great working relationships, cross-over in membership, why do the paramilitary publications/leadership/”community” spokespersons give the Unionist parties dog’s abuse?

    Why do paramilitary supporters criticize people and then go and vote for them ? I know for a fact that the UVF supported UUP candidates in a certain point of Belfast, to the point of hanging election posters. Why ? Why do unionist politicians keep electing the people that they condemn, and who actively murder their constituents, into cushy jobs ? I don’t know – but they quite clearly do. The way to deal with this argument is to find a theory that fits the facts, not try to bend the facts to fit the theory. The facts are that paramilitaries in loyalist areas tend to do quite well, and they don’t take any particular heat from unionism.

    How many times did An phoblacht describe GA and MM as useless?

    AP/RN are part of Sinn Fein, they are not a newspaper and can hardly be expected to give a reasonable view, any more than the Orange Standard might present an alternative view on the Parades Commission.

    It ultimately comes down to two things.
    Unionist attitudes to violence – There are three views towards violence explicit support, implicit support and rejection. Explicit support from the late 70’s to late 90’s didn’t do that well in Unionist community. Implicit support always did better ‘Yes but…”. A significant proportion and especially in the non-greater Belfast rejected it utterly.

    That is a fair assessment. I accept that a significant proportion rejected violence completely – this is true of the majority of people in NI irrespective of politics. The trouble is that a significant number fall into the “yes but” implicit category you are describing there. The number is significant enough such that elected politicians either fear them so much they will not cross them (and if that’s the case, they don’t deserve to be in public office), or more likely, go along with the support because they feel it is a natural outworking of what goes on in their community and they need to be a part of it to secure their power base. That’s what I feel Diane Dodds was really getting at.

    The key point here is whether a party is committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means. You do not have to be a part of a paramilitary movement to fit into that category. In my view, waving on the paramilitaries from the touchlines, or failing to condemn their criminality or violence, is basically the same thing as being one of their members.

    Loyalist paramilitaries have recruited young people and filled their heads full of crap about what great organisations they are how it was them that defended Ulster etc etc.

    The crap is coming from unionist politicians who insist that people waving UVF flags are entitled to march down roads and not be arrested. The crap comes from unionists like Ian Paisley who once said to RUC officers during a Drumcree riot scenario “don’t come running to me if they burn you out of your houses”. The crap finally comes from the electorate, who clearly re-elect this evil, bigoted and violence-supporting individual time and time again, never seeing fit to punish him for his less than unequivocal position on violent organizations.

    Loyalist paramilitaries have also played successfully on the fears of the implicit supporters of violence. “You might not like us but if them’uns come up that road you need us to protect you. The police and army won’t do it” Interface violence helped this flourish. Plus disaffection with the value of the political process has lead to a perception/belief violence/threats of violence gets dividends. Implicit supporters won’t vote for them but they turn blind-eyes and a blind eye is enough to allow them to stay.

    I would not doubt this part of what you have said; it’s a perfectly rational assessment. Now you need to apply it to republicans. Unionists must get involved in all-party talks which include Sinn Fein. At least talking would be a start. My problem is the DUP’s hypocrisy, more than anything else. Having talks with loyalists would at least be justifiable if there was some indication that a ceasefire might eventually transpire. There seems no likelihood that this is the case. Given SF’s mandate, how can unionists justify a boycott while talking to unelected loyalists at the same time ?

    It was the moderate nationalists which boycotted the Prior assembly not unionists.
    When Paisley and Fitt were discussing power-sharing in the Atkins talks Hume began to make his move to get Fitt out.
    Power-sharing needs two and on at least two occassions it was the nationalists who didn’t turn up.

    If Paisley had attended the Sunningdale talks, rather than trying to bring them down, the Council of Ireland section might have been watered down to begin with, and things could have been up and running. Instead, Paisley wrecked it and took with it the opportunity to avoid a lot of trouble. I agree that the Prior assembly failed principally due to nationalist boycotts, and I’ve never liked Hume because of that.

    But I still think it is absurd to believe that unionists ever placed a terribly high priority on powersharing. Right now, the DUP are saying that direct rule is fairly OK. In other words, having the British government overrule them on matters such as housing, health, education and even parades is preferable to having a member of a now-disarmed paramilitary movement in government. This is an totally unreasonable position to take from a political party like the DUP with paramilitary links of it’s own and a long history of on/off flirtations with armed groups.

    The way out of this is to call SF’s bluff; expose them. Let’s see if they’re really as sincere about dealing with unionists’ fears as they say they are. The DUP could make plenty of hay out of it – “we are going in there to face Sinn Fein and tell them straight”. I’ve a strong suspicion that a lot of DUP supporters would see it this way too.

  • fair_deal

    “The crap is coming from unionist politicians who insist that people waving UVF flags are entitled to march down roads and not be arrested. The crap comes from unionists like Ian Paisley who once said to RUC officers during a Drumcree riot scenario “don’t come running to me if they burn you out of your houses”. The crap finally comes from the electorate, who clearly re-elect this evil, bigoted and violence-supporting individual time and time again, never seeing fit to punish him for his less than unequivocal position on violent organizations.”

    1. Paisley is the source of all evil in Northern ireland. Paisley is the spawn of the devil. If Paisley hadn’t been born Northern Ireland would just be a wonderful place of peace love and harmony. The Unionist equivalent is that Northern ireland was a great wee place and if the IRA hadn’t started up again it would have remained so. Both are nonsense.
    2. Those flags list the battles of the 36th Ulster Division. A division and battles at least three members of my family fought in. I refuse to abandon that part of my families history either to republican demands or misappropriatiation by loyalists.
    3. He did not say that during Drumcree. He had repudiated the loyalist campaign of violence against RUC officers and assisted many officers who had suffered as a result. He said it after he’d been ejected from the Northern Ireland Assembly by RUC members (including a couple he had assisted). Neither did the campaign of violence against RUC officers re-commence after this incident so there was no cause and effect again undermining your claim of power and influence over paramilitaries.

    “Instead, Paisley wrecked it and took with it the opportunity to avoid a lot of trouble”

    I think you seriously over-estimate Paisley’s role during Sunningdale. Sunningdale was also rejected at the ballot box.

    “AP/RN are part of Sinn Fein, they are not a newspaper and can hardly be expected to give a reasonable view”

    This is my point. You claim they are all great pals and closely connected. If this was so why is this not reflected in the “in-house” publications of this group of great pals.

    “the DUP are saying that direct rule is fairly OK.”

    The DUP have not said that as far as I am aware. A number of commentators have said that is the view among a sizeable section of the Unionist community which it regretably is. They have presented a number of papers on means to restore devolution quickly prior to the two governments cutting a side deal with the Provos.

    “The way out of this is to call SF’s bluff”

    I thought better of you than to try that very tired old chestnut. David Trimble was told that and tried that.

    The RM have been challenged in dialogue at community level and failed too. The only parades dialogue that has worked was were the SDLP were in the driving seat (ie Londonderry). Any dialogue with SF/IRA resident hate groups hasn’t worked e.g. Springfield Road five demands presented 4 agreed to but they were asked to move on 1 the route and they refused / Lower ormeau / Crumlin Road were agreements of peaceful republican protest descended into two anti-protestant riots.

    If republicans are incapable of sharing something as simple as a public road then it is reasonable to question their ability to be genuine power-sharers.

  • IJP

    If the loyalist mob decides to turn on its Catholic neighbour, then who will protect those who are targets?

    The same people who protect the targets when a Loyalist mob decides to turn on its Protestant neighbour (a much more common occurrence), or when a Republican mob turns on its neighbour.

  • stu

    Comrade Stalin

    As a non-Unionist voting Unionist (voted SDLP last election) I think you’re falling into the same trap as many other Nationalists and mistaking the DUP’s fondness for Britishness with a desire maintain Direct Rule; the DUP are for devolved government. It was the DUP who got bus passes for the elderly, don’t forget, and it was Sinn Fein who brought down the Assembly with their spy-ring escapages. Twice Stormont has been prorogued; each side has shown that certain elements of their leadership are unfit for public office;

    “The crap finally comes from the electorate, who clearly re-elect this evil, bigoted and violence-supporting individual time and time again, never seeing fit to punish him for his less than unequivocal position on violent organizations.”

    Removed from context, who could this describe? Uncles Gerry and Martin, Big Ian, Blair, Bush…

    No more of this ‘it all started…themmuns/ussuns…’. Everyone needs to put pressure on their leaders, bang their heads together and get this sorted out.

  • aquifer

    The IRA offered defiance not defense for the catholics living throughout northern ireland.

    The idea that criminal militias can defend residential communities 24/7 is a fantasy. They promote retaliation against innocents, and foster escalation to make themselves seem important.

  • Brian Boru

    Stu, where is the proof regarding the spy-ring allegations? Why were the charges suddenly dropped when the case came to court? Maybe the claims were just a plot by anti-Agreement Unionists in the PSNI to bring down the executive. That is my suspicion and I suspect that of many Nationalists too,

  • Robert Keogh

    The idea that criminal militias can defend residential communities 24/7 is a fantasy.

    I agree with your conclusion even if I don’t entirely agree with your reasoning. The question you might want to ask yourself is – how bad does society have to get before defense by a criminal militia becomes preferable?

  • aquifer

    Defense by a criminal militia would be tolerated, even if not preferred by the population, when the police had acted side-by-side with sectarian assassins on the street and were abusive without being effective in removing the parmilitaries. We have moved on from pogroms in the early 70’s and systematic police abuse. It seems the police are now even shy about cautioning the unruly.

    The current policing problem is now the politicians. Whether the SF position on the police is just a phase or part of a longer civil subversion strategy, and whether Unionism can bare the permanent loss of sectarian policing, remains to be seen.

    “>Irish Examiner

  • stu

    ‘Maybe the claims were just a plot by anti-Agreement Unionists in the PSNI to bring down the executive. That is my suspicion and I suspect that of many Nationalists too’

    That’s a very suspicious statement. I don’t go accusing the Gardai of corruption. Remember that it was John Reid who suspended the Assembly, and it was not the first time it happened; every time it had been suspended temporarily before was due to concerns about the IRA’s level of disarmament.

    And since you’re obviously more qualified to do detective work than the PSNI, perhaps you can provide me a motive; for the PSNI to sabotage the assembly, to set up Sinn Fein, for John Reid to suspend the Assembly, for the CPS to take the case. That’s a serious conspiracy, why?

  • aquifer
  • tra g

    “Those flags list the battles of the 36th Ulster Division. A division and battles at least three members of my family fought in. I refuse to abandon that part of my families history either to republican demands or misappropriatiation by loyalists.”

    The orange order carry a banner commemorating uvf killer Brian Robinson, now as far as i am aware, Brian Robinson died in 1989, so i don’t think he took part in the battle of the somme.

    The order are also happy to allow uvf Shankill butcher Eddie McIlwaine to carry uvf flags at their parades.

    The band which lead last years Whiterock parade also commemorates a uvf killer.

    The Old Boyne Island Heroes orange lodge, commemorate several senior members of the present day uvf, including mass murderer Bobby ‘Basher’ bates, who was another member of the butcher gang.

    The Apprentice boys provided a guard of honour at the funeral of Bobby Mahood, one of the most senior members of the uvf to be killed during an internal feud.

    Hundreds of intelligence files were found in Stoneyford orange hall.

    In 1997 a 16 year old catholic boy was abducted and his body mutilated, before being dumped in a lime pit used by local farmers to dump dead livestock.An orangeman, Norman Coopey was convicted of his murder, the orange order refused to expel Coopey, despite media pressure.

    The list goes on…

  • greg

    The Norman Coopey story is spine chilling.

    I remember the young lads family being interviewed on television

  • Robert Keogh

    acquifer,

    SF effectively signed up to policing with the decom if the IRA.

    It will take some time but now that there is no IRA to “protect their” communities from petty criminals, gurriers or loyalism they will have to turn to the PSNI. Once the community has taken on board that reality it will be politically easy for SF to follow in their wake.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Aquifer: “The IRA offered defiance not defense for the catholics living throughout northern ireland.

    The idea that criminal militias can defend residential communities 24/7 is a fantasy. They promote retaliation against innocents, and foster escalation to make themselves seem important. “

    Yeah, but when when the police have been known to occasionally spearhead assaults against your community, you start to look to your own borders.