the basis of a civilised society?

In yesterday’s Sunday Times, while reporting that Andre Shoukri had been moved from the UDA wing of Maghaberry prison, Liam Clarke made some of the same links between events I pointed to here on Wednesday, and noted some additional ones too.From the Sunday Times report:

The UDA believes that £30m in British government funding to loyalist areas hinges on a peaceful outcome to the internal dispute.

There is also the potential of several million more being levered from Irish government and business sources by Martin McAleese, the Irish president’s husband.

This appears to be why the UDA cautiously isolated the Shoukris before removing them. The strategy was designed by Jackie McDonald, the UDA’s south Belfast brigadier, who is a friend of the McAleeses.

McDonald is known to have an astute political sense, while being a ruthless man. What sets him apart from the rest, and makes him the UDA’s effective leader, is his ability to build up favours and goodwill even among businessmen from whom he had extorted money.

“I won’t always be a brigadier, but I’ll always be Jackie McDonald,” he once said. “I’ll have to be able to live with people without looking over my shoulder. Being a hard bastard won’t get you that.”

This pragmatic approach has won him real political influence with the Irish government and the McAleese family, to the point where he is sometimes referred to as “the Irish ambassador” by fellow loyalists.

The plan that McDonald has sold to the UDA is that the British government investment can be used to employ former UDA activists and released prisoners as community workers. It would be a way out of criminality for those who want one.

It’s a sequence of events that some would no doubt suggest was a pragmatic approach, but for those who would argue, as the late Mgr Denis Faul did in this interview, on the topic of those communities and the control exerted by paramilitary groups..

“Either there is law or no law. That is the basis of a civilised society”

..there are other reasons to question the governments approach.

It reminded me of the question posed to the Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland by the Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins, on the OTR Bill, before that particular Bill was withdrawn:

A political ethicist might see the “on-the-run” law as a political gesture in a higher cause. Individuals must often take second place to the collective good. Or ethics might ordain that such a law pollutes the integrity of the state. Why else were ministers so obviously queasy in the Commons. Were they nervous of reversing Eliot’s “greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason”? Were they doing the wrong deed for the right reason?

To which Peter Hain’s response was “In the cause of peace, our government has to take difficult decisions.”

Of course, subsequently the government was forced to change that particular decision..

No better time, I’d suggest, to remember those ethical questions, and to add another in light of Mick’s recent, if contested, question on who could replace the moral conscience Denis Faul represented

Who will provide a moral conscience for the Secretary of State et al?

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  • loftholdingswood

    As well as having “an astute political sense” Jackie McDonald has had the common sense to build up around him a set of people consisting of not only the usual suspects and likely lads but strategists, thinkers and, dare I say it, progressive elements who understand the moral conundrum that the very existence of the UDA brings about. It makes for a fresh approach and achieves some startling results (in some areas at least). But the article plays too heavily on it’s assumption that any Government money will be used to “pay off” former prisoners or current members by giving them Community Worker employed status. This is not what is being sought and is not what the money would be spent on. Re-generation of areas through employment, housing renewal and community networking provision is what is required and, of course, some people would benefit by being gainfully employed. But automatic hand outs in return for the complete eradication of paramilitary criminality in a nonsense that the tabloid press want to dwell on. The cold hard facts are that the UDA will support all the positive aspects of funding initiatives because the UDA and it’s members are part and parcel of the community and, like the community it represents, genuinely wants to see our areas peaceful, devoid of the drug menace that has blighted so many of us and a future model that our young people can aspire to.

  • Occasional Commentator

    loftholdingswood, would I be right in thinking that most paramilitaries have day jobs? Meaning that they personally don’t necessarily need a new job?

  • loftholdingswood

    I could not put a percentage on it I’m afraid (it’s the type of statistic that even the Social Security Office would be hard pressed to work out) but I would imagine that employment levels are now quite high. Yet again it is press delusion to picture the typical member of any organisation as a BMW driving, coke snorting, gold chain wearing neanderthal. Though they do exist. The reality tends to be far more mundane and boring.

  • gg

    “because the UDA and it’s members are part and parcel of the community and, like the community it represents, genuinely wants to see our areas peaceful, devoid of the drug menace that has blighted so many of us and a future model that our young people can aspire to”

    Well done, the UDA has caught up with the rest of civilised society – about 35 years too late. In the meantime we’ve had to suffer violence, crime, intimidation and murder. So they’ll not be getting much praise from me for stopping what they shouldn’t have been doing in the first place.

  • loftholdingswood

    I don’t recall asking for praise. the article made some pertinent points and I clarified what is happening. As part of the civilised society you so love you will at least be glad that we are catching up, albeit not to your satisfaction.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    loftsholdingwood: “I don’t recall asking for praise. the article made some pertinent points and I clarified what is happening. As part of the civilised society you so love you will at least be glad that we are catching up, albeit not to your satisfaction. ”

    Assumes facts not *yet* in evidence, as there is many a slip between the cup and the lip. Mayhaps McDonald has the strength, endurance and vision to bring the UDA in off the ledge and maybe he doesn’t. That remains to be seen. Likewise, there are many other things that can go wrong between now and whenever he achieves this miracle. Just off the top of my head, the UVF / LVF feud heats up and, in the course of that stupidity, matters get put on hold. A worse scenario is that as Mr. McDonald is out there teaching his fellows a better way, one of the other Loyalist alphabet-soup gangs decides its a sign of weakness and violent stupidity ensues. Lastly, the Shoukri Bros. could still have some fight in them.

    Just because McDonald is the pick of the little doesn’t make him a champion… leastwise not yet.

  • Pete Baker

    “But the article plays too heavily on it’s assumption that any Government money will be used to “pay off” former prisoners or current members by giving them Community Worker employed status.”

    Remind me, lofty, what’s the employed status of Jackie McDonald?

    For a less partisan assessment of the moves within the UDA I’d recommend this article, it’s included in the links in the original post, but worth highlighting again.

  • Turbo Paul

    I wish Jackie McDonald the very best of luck in convincing those wishing to continue with their criminality to leave the stage gracefully, without any further bloodshed.

    I sincerely hope that if Mr McDonald can achieve this then the UDA will be welcomed into the politcal mainstream.

    Furthermore, I hope the £30 million is forthcoming as soon as possible.

    I do wonder if £30 million had been offered to Republicans then there would not have been the need for the Northern Bank raid????

    The British govt works in mysterious ways.

    Perhaps Martin Ingram will enlighten us as to whether the Brit govt allowed the Northern Bank raid to happen.

    A potential paradox, the Brits paying off the Republicans by allowing the Northern Bank raid, the Irish govt paying off the Loyalists by giving funding, roughly the same figures ????

  • lib2016

    …and not a word about the obvious hand the British security services are playing in all this. We’re living in some kind of wonderland where it pays to disregard and deny the obvious. The loyal Orders have no connection to the loyalist paramilitaries and the British didn’t set up, arm and organise the loyalist deathsquads, the GFA wasn’t backed by a huge majority and the moon is made of green cheese.

    How long can this farce go on? In two years there may well be a Democrat in the White House. Does Brown really think he can explain British inaction away or is that why we have this sudden dash for a decision by November?

  • gisajob

    “but I would imagine that employment levels are now quite high.”

    Many are now involved in private banking initiatives, providing loans to disadvantaged members of their community and sometimes the interest is as low as fifty percent.
    Others are gainfully employed in the security industry in our local pubs ensuring that there is no trouble as long as their organisation is providing the personnel, of course this also ensures that any illicit substances that are available only come from one source, therefore eliminating any possibility of a ‘gangland turfwar’.
    Then there is the insurance agents who provide various policies to the local business community enabling them to operate without interferance from any of the local thugs and or the possibility of something like unexplained arson for example.
    Then of course you need the collectors who collect the money from all the ‘willing’ local business men.
    You also have the men working in the many local carwash establishments who keep our cars in pristine condition. Sometimes I worry about the jobs in this industry as some of them don’t seem to be very busy but they manage to stay afloat.

    These are but a few of the ‘day jobs ‘ I know some members of the UDA do, although there is varying levels of competition coming from companies such as the UVF, RHC and LVF.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Turbo Paul: “I do wonder if £30 million had been offered to Republicans then there would not have been the need for the Northern Bank raid????

    *SNIP*

    A potential paradox, the Brits paying off the Republicans by allowing the Northern Bank raid, the Irish govt paying off the Loyalists by giving funding, roughly the same figures ???? ”

    Assumes a slew of facts not in evidence re: the Northern Bank robbery. Given the lack of convictions, it would be hard to say who did the job with much in the way of support. Isn’t it interesting that its always “innocent until proven guilty” until you suspect its “themmuns” what committed the crime.

    Likewise, were it truly a quid pro quo, there would have been 30 million in untraceable / uncancellable specie, as opposed to millions in new bills that would be readily tracked, neh?

  • McGrath

    “The plan that McDonald has sold to the UDA is that the British government investment can be used to employ former UDA activists and released prisoners as community workers. It would be a way out of criminality for those who want one.”

    Its hard to believe these hard working entrepreneurs will suddenly become social workers.

  • Turbo Paul

    Everyone must agree that Loyalist and Republican criminality must be addressed.

    Do we allow those engaged in criminality to leave the stage in a hail of bullets or do we offer an incentive, pay off??

    If the ultimate answer is an incentive, lets bypass the hail of bullets.

  • gg

    “I don’t recall asking for praise. the article made some pertinent points and I clarified what is happening.”

    Please also note that I specifically chose not to use the word ‘you’ in my post so as not to single you out. I was refering to the UDA as a body.

    “As part of the civilised society you so love you will at least be glad that we are catching up, albeit not to your satisfaction.”

    I am very tired of the terrorist tail wagging the dog. It annoys me that that particular tail is going to get a great deal of the Winalot for finally doing what the rest of us have been doing for a very long time, i.e. abiding by the law as assented to by Her Majesty.

    However, out of goodwill I would welcome an end to UDA criminality, but it would need to as definitive as that demanded of the IRA by the DUP. As a unionist I think it’s only fair.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Turbo Paul: “Everyone must agree that Loyalist and Republican criminality must be addressed. ”

    Agreed.

    Turbo Paul: “Do we allow those engaged in criminality to leave the stage in a hail of bullets or do we offer an incentive, pay off?? ”

    What, pray tell, is wrong with shackles and a coat over their heads? Is this not the standard method of shuffling felons off the stage?

    Turbo Paul: “If the ultimate answer is an incentive, lets bypass the hail of bullets.”

    Agreed, but we should not reward anti-social behavior.

  • Turbo Paul

    Dread Cthulhu
    What, pray tell, is wrong with shackles and a coat over their heads? Is this not the standard method of shuffling felons off the stage?

    In society that has not had to endure the troubles like Northern Ireland yes, treat them like any other criminals.

    Therefore, Goodwill indeed is the order of the day.

    Dread Cthulhu
    Agreed, but we should not reward anti-social behavior.

    Again, because of the previous close relationships between criminal paramilitaries and the mainstream politcal parties, goodwill is needed for a clean break.

    The reward, incentive, is not for previous anti-social behavior, but for future lawful behavior.

  • lurker

    I was in Maghaberry today and Shoukri had not been moved.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Turbo Paul: “In society that has not had to endure the troubles like Northern Ireland yes, treat them like any other criminals. ”

    That is something of a cop out. Paying criminals not to commit crimes smacks of extortion / protection rackets expanded to the national level. So long as you make criminals a protected class, they will remain criminals, if only to garner additional largesse from the public purse.

    Turbo Paul: “Again, because of the previous close relationships between criminal paramilitaries and the mainstream politcal parties, goodwill is needed for a clean break.”

    So, we bribe the criminals into “community workers,” even before their swords have been turned into plowshares, or at least turned in, because it might embaress some politicians?

    A better plan would be to set a “drop dead” date for coddling criminality by both sides. A carrot without a stick is naught more than a bribe. If they want the benefits of working within the politics of a polite society, let them disarm and end criminality first.

  • Turbo Paul

    This thread is titled:

    “the basis of a civilised society?

    How about if the Gates Foundation donates $1 billion, of the $20 billion given by Warren Buffet, to fund a world class International Peace Center in Belfast, that researches methods to prevent conflict within societies????

    This would help the job situation.

    There is an overwhelming abundance of experience to draw from and both sides can use their collective experiencies to offer solutions to conflicts before they get out of control.

    Also this centre, some time in the future, could be used as the vennue for “Truth and reconciliation” hearings.

    If applied to Northern Ireland, the “basis of a civilised society” is massive investment and a dramatic rise in the standard of living for everyone, not top down, but bottom up.

  • Turbo Paul

    Dread Cthulhu
    A better plan would be to set a “drop dead” date for coddling criminality by both sides. A carrot without a stick is naught more than a bribe. If they want the benefits of working within the politics of a polite society, let them disarm and end criminality first.

    I agree with you entirely.
    I do hope this is included in the current talks and is part of the November deadline.

    I would rather relay it to those engaged in criminality as a:

    “come in from the cold, or take your chance as other criminals date”

  • Pete Baker

    TP

    It wasn’t an open question, it refers to the apparent ‘pay off’ strategy of the NIO which had, eventually, become the topic under discussion.

    Although, I’d also point out that the wait-and-see approach is also covered by the same consequences implied in the question.

  • TAFKABO

    How about if the Gates Foundation donates $1 billion, of the $20 billion given by Warren Buffet, to fund a world class International Peace Center in Belfast, that researches methods to prevent conflict within societies????

    Frankly, the thoughts that the money donated to help people with problems incalculably more difficult than ours being diverted to this petty little squabble makes me feel physically sick.

  • Rapunsel

    Mmm interesting.

    1. What makes anyone think that former or current paramilitaries are qualified and experienced , skilled and resourceful enough to grapple with the complex issues of education, housing, urban regeneration, under and unemployment that afflict many communities here?

    2. Why would any community want to see someone walk into a well paid job without regard to any principle of employment on merit

    3. There is plenty of evidence I feel to suggest that loyalist communities that are successfully engaging in regeneration are doing so not because they have employed the boys but because they have engaged a wide range of people, have an effective strategy and employ the right people as volunteers and staff. The existence of the UDA and their malign influence is holding many communities back.

    4. Does anyone remember the Lower Shankill/ Now there’s a good example of what happens when UDA men are employed as community workers. There are plenty more of when the UDA and their associates get their hands on the dough. I recall suspected mising funds by North belfast Prisoners Aid reported in the Irish news recently ( no link)

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/3009580.stm

    My recollection is that two community workers in the Lower Shankill were exposed and convicted as members of the UFF. A wee bird tells me that Mr Cunningham did sweet FA in the Lower Shankill except sit on his ample arse in an office drawing a salary and that as a result one of the most deprived areas in NI were unable to spend a government grant allocated to them

    5. Wise up. Many of us who have been engaged in helping our communities to develop are neither members of any paramilitary organisation nor are we in it for the money. Loyalist communities may need money , they may need workers and people may need jobs. The last thing they need is a gang of incompetent ex UDA men landed into plum jobs as community workers. This simply would be extortion by another name.

  • aquifer

    All the proddie paramilitaries have to do for their deprived communities is go out of business and let legit small businesses in.

    But little chance of that when they make barrowloads of money from extorting building sites, whether public or private housing, churches, or whatever.

    The police seem to be claiming that every time witnesses to extortion have co-operated with the police they have secured a conviction.

    I you don’t want to be the last sucker paying protection money to drug addled murder gangs ring 028 9092 2267 – staffed by officers from the PSNI Extortion Unit Monday-Friday 8am-4pm

  • McGrath

    “All the proddie paramilitaries have to do for their deprived communities is go out of business and let legit small businesses in.”

    That would have been the most sensible thing I read all day, if you had simply said ALL paramiltaries.

  • Crataegus

    Aquifer

    All the proddie paramilitaries have to do for their deprived communities is go out of business and let legit small businesses in.

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Strikes me this is simply an extension of the protection rackets. “Looks like you need a bit of security mate, ooh cost you.” “Don’t invest in security ooh you never know what will happen.” If many individuals and business people have had the balls to tell these people to get stuffed time the government set an example and did likewise. If you are a local business person the decision could have grave consequences for government minsters personal risk virtually zero. Invest the money into the criminal assets recovery or similar and incarcerate as many as possible. Ohh there is a problem with that isn’t there, collusion. Some of these individuals can’t be arrested can they?

    Yes we need to invest in these areas but we should not legitimise a criminal organisation.

  • Daisy

    Did Mr McDonald have a leading role in the fueding which has been a feature of loyalist paramilitarism for however long now? Did he sign any death warrants? If the answer is “yes” to either question, is his role to be ignored for the “greater good” when, going on past performance (didn’t loyalists get financially rewarded after the Holy Cross debacle?), the UDA’s word is worth as much as one of their ‘gold’ chains.

    Working class protestant areas don’t need these neanderthals and they certainly don’t need millions of pounds being entrusted to them to dole out as they see fit.

    Still, if McAleese thinks he’s a friend then that’s ok.

  • DK

    Well done to the UUP for using their influence in getting these paramilitaries to become more peaceful! What was that? UDA not UVF. Oh dear.

  • loftholdingswood

    There would have to be far more stringent checks on where this potential money might go to I agree. One or two previous schemes have been disappointing to say the least. But it is a learning curve for everyone. I would not want the classic “jobs for the boys” scenario and, though I don’t accept that genuine Loyalists are a malign influence on the areas where they live, the case for moving into community politics is a far more fruitful execise than, say, moving into setting up a new drinking den or spending all year round waiting for an 11th night bonfire and thinking that this is the ultimate achievement of the year.

    We have various degrees of paramilitaries with various degrees of involvement or intrest inwhat is happening to our society at the moment. As much as I hate the words “conflict resolution” we are in a stage whereby everyone, young and old, has to believe in and sign up to the new day that is dawning. The youth of today (I now sound so old) are so clearly influenced by what is around them. I used to hear so many of them say that they wanted to be the next Johny Adair. I try and convince them to be the opposite and set aside the mentality whereby success is seen as the latest BMW or the size of the gold chain dragging your neck down. Areas need input all year round and Community Groups with funding staffed by mainly volunteers is the way forward, replacing the old style murals with fresh new “local” murals depicting the history of that particular area whether it be by a footballing celebrity or an old wollen mill or picturesque scenary. The youth follow these initiatives especially if they can see the “older” brigade knuckle down to it as well. Too many paramilitaries (ex-paramilitaries, jaded paramilitaries, worn out paramilitaries, downtrodden and confused paramilitaries) feel that they are not part of this new initiative, this new sense of community politics. But we needto bring them all with us to achieve the sense of togetherness that history has shown is so hard to bring about. So whilst I may witter on about the new fresh faces dictating the pace to the rank and file I also recognise that all the ex-prisoners and all the 25 year members and all the disillusioned need to be encouraged to come with us.

    We need them all integrated back into our communities to be not only a truly civilised society but to give them the hope and alternative to the current malaise that they all too often find themselves in.

  • lib2016

    loftholdingswood,

    Given the hypocrisy and doubledealing they see in society all around them where are they going to find the rolemodels for such a change in behaviour?

    The DUP and UUP have always openly relied on the threat of physical force in the past yet they are equally ready to denounce the unionist paramilitaries when to do so seems politically advantageous to them.

    What you are suggesting is a repudiation of all that Orangeism stands for and it will not happen. Decent honourable people from your community have tried to find moderate versions of unionism before and have always failed. You need to examine the foundations before you start building.

  • crataegus

    loftholdingswood

    One or two previous schemes have been disappointing to say the least.

    Complete waste of money would be a fair description.

    I don’t accept that genuine Loyalists are a malign influence on the areas where they live,

    Ever been shoot at by one, or your house bombed?

    the case for moving into community politics is a far more fruitful execise than, say, moving into setting up a new drinking den or spending all year round waiting for an 11th night bonfire and thinking that this is the ultimate achievement of the year.

    What about getting a job?

    The youth of today are so clearly influenced by what is around them.

    That’s why we should lock these parasites up.

    The youth follow these initiatives especially if they can see the “older” brigade knuckle down to it as well.

    There isn’t a snowballs chance in hell of this happening, they are set in their way.

    Too many paramilitaries (ex-paramilitaries, jaded paramilitaries, worn out paramilitaries, downtrodden and confused paramilitaries) feel that they are not part of this new initiative, this new sense of community politics.

    Stop whingeing and join a political party.

    We need them all integrated back into our communities to be not only a truly civilised society but to give them the hope and alternative to the current malaise that they all too often find themselves in.

    OH spare me reaching for the tissues as I type. One thing I learnt at school was there are people that understand one thing and one only might. Any easing up is taken as a sign of weakness to be exploited. I wouldn’t give these people any credibility whatsoever it is a mistake.

    I would be the first to support regeneration of places like the Shankill or York Street but am I the only one who thinks this approach is asinine. Fund the problem, utter madness.

    Back to work.

  • loftholdingswood

    “Given the hypocrisy and doubledealing they see in society all around them where are they going to find the rolemodels for such a change in behaviour?”

    They do exist. Jackie McDonald for one in my opinion has been brave in demonstrating the way forward whilst retaining his principles.

    “There isn’t a snowballs chance in hell of this happening, they are set in their way.”

    No, you are wrong to believe this. There is a sweeping change taking place that is inclusive of those who previously saw no way out for themselves and their particular lifestyle.

    “Stop whingeing and join a political party.”

    I am not whingeing. I believe that working class Protestant people need a seachange in politics away from the “norm” that has been dished up by the mainstream parties. I envisage the UPRG filling the void, though I accept that this is idealistic. Recently I have canvassed support in my area and it is so hard to get people to express any sort of opinion as they just seem so disillusioned by the process. I’ll have to terrorise them harder I suppose.

    “What about getting a job?”

    Yes indeed, most desirable. But some areas have a paucity of jobs and certainly a lack of decent paying jobs. But that is an argument for another day and another type of debate as the low paid jobs/benefit system positively encourages staying at home and claiming. The joke round here is that since “Big Brother” there has been an increase in DLA claimants diagnosing themselves with Tourettes Syndrome. Only it is not a joke.

  • Crataegus

    loftholdingswood

    But some areas have a paucity of jobs and certainly a lack of decent paying jobs. But that is an argument for another day and another type of debate as the low paid jobs/benefit system positively encourages staying at home and claiming.

    Strange how so many East Europeans seem to be keen to move here and get a job. As for the benefit system as you say one for another day.

    Believe it or not I actually sympathise with the blight of many working class areas.

    I have seen millions poured into schemes that are a complete waste of resources, and which are utterly unstainable in the long run. The problem in many of these areas is lack of access to resources. If I want to set up a business I can go out and borrow against property, if you don’t own anything you can’t. Perhaps instead of painting murals a better use of resources would be in loan guarantee schemes or business micro lending through the Credit Unions. That way the money is still there for future needs and you support those with a bit of get up and go.

    The other major problem is Primary Education and dramatically improving pupil attainment.

  • loftholdingswood

    It is about Hearts and Minds (not the TV programme) and empowering people to take control of their own destiny. Something beyond wanting to be the local heavy or drug dealer if you are a teenage boy or desiring to be either pushing a pram or becoming Chantelle from Big Brother if you are a girl. There is such drudgery and despair in certain parts of the country and it is as bad if not worse than parts of inner city London when I visit there. That truly frightens me as our current crop of teenage people (who presumably will carry forward any agreements and programmes that we sign up to) are as poisoned of the political process as their fathers are. They want no part of it and can’t see any advantage to it. All this may seem way off the point but we are talking about civilisation and it is hard to see a decent future for all of us until we take hold of this fundamental problem.

    The good news is all the hard work on the ground seems to be paying off in the current marching season and I am seeing local agreements come to fruition in relation to flags, parades, bonfires and assorted problems that occur at this time of year. Some real progress and that has to be recognised.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    LHW: “It is about Hearts and Minds (not the TV programme) and empowering people to take control of their own destiny. Something beyond wanting to be the local heavy or drug dealer if you are a teenage boy or desiring to be either pushing a pram or becoming Chantelle from Big Brother if you are a girl.”

    And how, pray tell, is employing thugs who have yet to surrender their arms in the role of “community workers” going to address this problem? Likewise, one does not win “hearts and minds” by simply throwing money at the problem and paying the bad folks not to be bad folks.

    LHW: “There is such drudgery and despair in certain parts of the country and it is as bad if not worse than parts of inner city London when I visit there. That truly frightens me as our current crop of teenage people (who presumably will carry forward any agreements and programmes that we sign up to) are as poisoned of the political process as their fathers are.”

    Poor buggers prolly have to walk 5 miles uphill through the snow and over broken glass each way to school…

    LHW: “All this may seem way off the point but we are talking about civilisation and it is hard to see a decent future for all of us until we take hold of this fundamental problem. ”

    And painting Dickensian portraits of despair is trying to paper over the issue of Loyalist arms, loyalist ciminality and loyalist intractability.

    LHW: “The good news is all the hard work on the ground seems to be paying off in the current marching season and I am seeing local agreements come to fruition in relation to flags, parades, bonfires and assorted problems that occur at this time of year. Some real progress and that has to be recognised. ”

    So… they can behave on specific days when eyes are watching. Loyalist violence still far outstrips Republican violence and, per the IMC, they lag behind PIRA in moving away from criminality. If their sucesses need be recognized, so should their failures.

    However, the ultimate failure is that of the state, which appears to hope against logic that the Loyalists good behavior can be purchased.

    I seem to recall the Barbary Pirates operated under a similar scheme — they were just a little more honest about it.

  • loftholdingswood

    “And how, pray tell, is employing thugs who have yet to surrender their arms in the role of “community workers” going to address this problem? Likewise, one does not win “hearts and minds” by simply throwing money at the problem and paying the bad folks not to be bad folks.”

    As I have said before – I don’t expect either handouts or employment of “thugs”. And throwing money at the problem is not necessarily the answer either. But even your good self would accept that something needs to be done? Or just build more jails and automatically chuck everyone in that does not meet the criteria of being civilised? The problem needs addressing and, ultimately, local people will have to sort out their respective local problem. Is requesting both help and funding so bad?

    “Poor buggers prolly have to walk 5 miles uphill through the snow and over broken glass each way to school…”

    The main problem is that they are not going to school and don’t see the point of school.

    “And painting Dickensian portraits of despair is trying to paper over the issue of Loyalist arms, loyalist ciminality and loyalist intractability”

    Sorry that it is so Dickensian. How would you paint it? The way forward has been outlined by the more radical thinkers. That is not intractability. Arms and criminality will be addressed and are being addressed. It is important to move as one as breakaways and splinter groups cause problems and the problems tend to end up being a descent into violence. And the last thing communities need is an upsurge in violence. So it is all talk, talk, talk at the moment with gradual progress and one or two results along the way. Not perfect but the best you have at the moment. Unless you have a more radical plan that we can all sign up to?

    “So… they can behave on specific days when eyes are watching. Loyalist violence still far outstrips Republican violence and, per the IMC, they lag behind PIRA in moving away from criminality. If their sucesses need be recognized, so should their failures.”

    I would agree with that. I hope for more success and I won’t try and defend the failures. But a disparate organisation is just that. A lot of the work is just trying to keep everyone on board and on side and on message.

    “I seem to recall the Barbary Pirates operated under a similar scheme—they were just a little more honest about it”

    Barbary Pirates? That’s not that bunch from the Old Warren is it? Wait till I get my hands on them.

    “However, the ultimate failure is that of the state, which appears to hope against logic that the Loyalists good behavior can be purchased.”

    Fair point. We move towards what we see. The Government practised all of this before when they acquiesced to every demand from Sinn Fein. What’s good for the Goose….

  • HLA

    I think its a disgrace that the Shoukri brothers have been constantly victimised and portrayed as ‘thugs’ and ‘criminal gangsters’ over this past several years by the media. The majority of people are naive and narrow minded to believe everything they read in the papers. Both Andre and Ihab Shouhri are very caring, down to earth men, who if anything, have tried to help their local community. Its very convenient the media fail to mention about the community work they have done i.e. setting up youth clubs to keep young people off the streets and out of trouble, coaching local football teams and encouraging young people to aim for their goals in life.
    To be frank, I think people should look at the wider picture instead of commenting on people and things they really know nothing about.
    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion however I think its abit of a ‘cop out’ for people to judge people they dont actually know. May your opinion/comment be based on the media, religion or origin – it would maybe be an idea to remind you all that it takes all kinds to make a world and also in recent years both the media and our justice system have been criticized worldwide for its incompetance and victimisation.