There’s quite a few angles on the implications for the UUP of the attempted murder of UVF man Mark Haddock. Henry McDonald muses on how long it can be until UUP meltdown, given the Loyalist paramilitaries (despite the undoubted good intentions of David Ervine) are still acting well outside of both the spirit and the letter of the Belfast Agreement.Empey defends his decision on the basis that no one else is working to bring Loyalism ‘inside the tent’. Given Haddock’s alleged status as an informer, An Fhirinne has called for further investigation into collusion between Loyalists and British forces.
The Belfast Telegraph leader, draws the implications neatly together:
The danger, for any party linked to paramilitaries, is that its standing with the public is dependent on uncontrollable armed organisations, deeply involved in Mafia-type crime that leads to violent feuds. Politicians can engage with them, trying to convert them into community workers, but if they fail – and the UVF has recently rejected any form of decommissioning – everyone loses.
Even the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, is tainted by the shooting of Haddock and the PUP connection. He took the calculated risk of appointing party chairperson Dawn Purvis to the Policing Board, presumably hoping to strengthen the PUP reformers, and now must suffer the consequences. The Stormont talks on devolution, already upset by the McGuinness allegations, face new difficulties.