Governments continuing to court UDA approval..

It’s being reported that what had been billed as a meeting between Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the UPRG will also include the leadership of the UDA – or, rather, up to four of them. It follows the report of last weekend’s secret discussion between the NIO and a go-between for the North Belfast UDA whose erstwhile leader will, presumably, not be attending today’s meeting.. being otherwise engaged.. btw how are those charges of membership of the UDA against Ihab Shoukri coming along? and are the UDA, in the words of Lord Justice Nicholson, still “notorious for criminal activity of all sorts”? I know it’s probably not even worth asking again.. but is this basis for the future really the best we can hope for?Updated Worthwhile, I think, noting the details from the BBC’s Vincent Kearney:

However, it is now expected that up to four of the UDA’s so-called brigadiers and a number of other senior figures within the organisation will attend the talks at Castle Buildings.

“They will meet Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Irish Foreign Affairs minister Dermot Ahern and senior government officials,” Mr Kearney said.

“Irish government sources say they will brief the delegation on the initiative to restore devolution – and will also discuss loyalist concerns about the constitutional position of Northern Ireland.

“The UDA representatives are expected to warn that talk of increased co-operation between the British and Irish governments in the affairs of Northern Ireland if the Stormont Assembly is not restored by 24 November is causing alarm in loyalist circles.”

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  • Nevin

    Pete, perhaps you should add the jigging at the crossroads to this ‘something of the night’ scenario. It gives a new meaning to PPP – Public Paramilitary Partnership.

  • Pete Baker

    It’s in there among the whole damn mess [of links] already, Nevin.

  • Peking

    I wonder if the pub doorman beaten half to death at the weekend by a 25 strong UDA contingent from south Belfast will get a mention. With the golfer there and seeing as he runs south Belfast it might be an opportunity to air it with him. Though I suppose it’s unlikely, might spoil the ambiance.

  • jim

    Perhaps a three-pronged approach to terrorists/insurgents/paramilitaries is necessary. I realize that this approach does not follow the usual line of “a criminal is a criminal is a criminal” (feel free to insert your own labels) but it does reflect the fact that we’re dealing with multiple motives and relationships.

    1. Offer to buy off the paramilitaries, and give them long-term employment (maybe as ‘community workers’) that might help the communities. This may sort the peacemakers from the gangsters and militants.

    2. If the militants persist, fight them with police, military, and intelligence resources. This might get ugly, but it might force militants and gangsters alike to reconsider.

    3. Collect evidence on the gangsters, arrest them, and have them stand trial.

    Again, this approach might sort out the various elements within the paramilitaries, as well as provide a way to play them against each other.

  • Pete Baker

    Jim

    That’s the basis for the future, and the apparent policy that the governments are following [as advised by Jonathan Powell], that I’ve questioned in the original post.

    The point you’re missing, and the point Powell et al don’t particularly seem concerned about – although, from their public comments, the judiciary would appear to disagree – is that the policy they are following actively undermines the criminal and judicial system.

    There is an alternative.

  • slug

    I think Loyalist decommissioning is an important part of the closure of the peace process. Hopefully something can be done to bring the loyalist paramilitaries on board with decommissioning before the resumption of devolution.

  • Pete Baker

    Just to be clear, the comments by the judiciary I referred to would appear to disagree with the chosen policy of the governments – via the NIO, as advised by etc..

  • Nevin

    Thanks, Pete. I looked but didn’t see!! Never mind, the extra mention does no harm.

    According to the Grapevine the police were directed in the ‘cessation’ era not to ruffle paramilitary feathers without political clearance; they could observe but not intervene without permission. Is it any wonder that the godfathers have grown in confidence?

    I’ve pointed out in other threads that civil servants in London and Dublin appear to be divided on the issue of how to deal with the godfathers. Those in the justice department have to handle the detritus whereas those in foreign affairs and the cabinet office try to sweep it under the carpet with the help of, er, bribes.

    The Oversight Commissioner for policing has also rung alarm bells about policing and the IMC timidly refers to the need for a culture of lawfulness. I intend to be a little less timid than the IMC 😉

  • Pete Baker

    It’s addressed in the second half of this linked post, Nevin [rather appropriately labelled in the text above]:

    “.. being otherwise engaged..”

  • londonderry_loyal

    Loyalist decommissioning is an important part of the closure of the peace proces but the people currnetly causing the problems are the dissidants. These people are out of control and sinn fein have lost any influence they had.

  • bertie

    This turns my ruddy stomach!

  • harpo

    ‘I think Loyalist decommissioning is an important part of the closure of the peace process.’

    slug

    Pity that it wasn’t included in the peace deal then, isn’t it? You can think that all you want, but as I see it there is no logical scenario whereby the loyalists are going to give up any weaponry.

    ‘Hopefully something can be done to bring the loyalist paramilitaries on board with decommissioning before the resumption of devolution.’

    That’s like saying ‘I hope something is done to bring about world peace, or an end to world hunger’. It’s just a forlorn hope.

    What are you advocating this something to be? Or is it just general wishful thinking that someone is going to come along and solve the problem?

  • Turbo Paul

    The point you’re missing, and the point Powell et al don’t particularly seem concerned about – although, from their public comments, the judiciary would appear to disagree – is that the policy they are following actively undermines the criminal and judicial system.

    Pete, would this oversight/calculated manoeuvre by curly bonce Jonathon Powell be because we are entering the last days of Tony Blair’s premiorship?

    Tony Blair will soon become a “here today, gone tomorrow politician” to quote Robin Day, and for that reason the alternative will not see a quick fix, for Tony’s legacy.

    When politicians leave office the judiciary are still there, picking up the pieces of a failed attempt to quick fix a problem for short term gain.

    I am also sure that some offers will be made to Republican godfathers in the run up to Nov, a back tax payment, etc.

    It is a very dangerous game to play politics with the criminal justice system.

  • Pete Baker

    “Pete, would this oversight/calculated manoeuvre by curly bonce Jonathon Powell be because we are entering the last days of Tony Blair’s premiorship?”

    TP

    Hardly likely. It seems, at least to me, to have been a long-standing policy – and not necessarily limited to the current focus on loyalist paramilitaries.

    The problem – as in the damage being done to the criminal and judicial system – will be exacerbated by the length of time this policy is, and has been, followed.

  • Turbo Paul

    Surely any sweetners for Godfathers must be given with a dealine so that after, criminals must take their chance as other criminals, employing lawyers to represent them.

    I am surprised that there seems to be no mention of deadlines for criminality to be regarded as just that, criminality plain and simple, no hiding behind a political cloak.

    I do believe there is an element, even a small one, of hurry up before Tony leaves, in the logic of this policy right now, even if it started back in the 90’s.

    So we are treating Godfathers with kid gloves at the moment, but this has to stop, deadline or not, before there can be real society created in Northern Ireland.

  • joeCanuck

    Look folks:

    Murder is murder and those reponsible for it should be rooted out and held responsible.
    But realpolitik (yes, I’m holding my nose) will always come up.
    The British Authorities were spectacularly unsuccessful in wiping out the IRA.
    Do you really think they would be any more successful in waging a low grade war against the loyalists?
    They have to be brought in from the cold, no matter how much it might disgust some of us.

  • Pete Baker

    TP

    The only deadline being mentioned is the 24 November [btw that is, I think, due to the political imperative of forthcoming elections/Blair standing down]

    Think about. A sovereign government is not going to come out and admit that they are allowing criminality to continue up to a certain date.. despite the clear message in the IMC reports that that is exactly what they are allowing to happen.

    But the policy noted here was well underway some time ago.

  • slug

    Harpo

    “Pity that it wasn’t included in the peace deal then, isn’t it? You can think that all you want, but as I see it there is no logical scenario whereby the loyalists are going to give up any weaponry.”

    Government-run all-party talks including the loyalists to bring about simultaneous UVF decommissioning, Sinn Fein support for PSNI, and restoration of the Executive.

  • Turbo Paul

    They have to be brought in from the cold, no matter how much it might disgust some of us.

    Bravo Joe, I know it will be a bitter pill to swallow, but there have been so many bitterpills swallowed over the years and this is just the latest.

    Personaly there should a period of time given for all engaged to either withdraw from criminality, or take their chances with other criminals against the lawful authorities.

    Any monies declared within this period can be allowed to work in the legitimate world and that may be the spur to some current criminals to try legit business.

    There should also be a warning that after any amnesty period there will be a crackdown on criminality and those caught will face the full force of the law, no matter what their connections are to the Unionists or Republicans.

  • slug

    Harpo:

    Further to my last post Turbo Pauls suggestion of 09:43PM – namely “deadlines for criminality to be regarded as just that, criminality plain and simple, no hiding behind a political cloak” – could be part of those negotiations.

  • slug

    Turbo Paul

    “They have to be brought in from the cold, no matter how much it might disgust some of us.”

    Indeed, and if that ends the rule of the paramilitaries in the loyalist areas then doing so would be very good for the health of loyalist working class communities.

    It must be seen as part of the closure of the peace process.

  • slug

    Further on this: the SDLP and Sinn Fein should insist on loyalist decommissioning before entering a powersharing executive. They too have a veto on its formation. Use it like the Unionists did.

  • joeCanuck

    good point slug.

    And given that SF would probably prefer de facto Joint Authority, that would put the DUP in a serious bind.

  • Turbo Paul

    #

    Further on this: the SDLP and Sinn Fein should insist on loyalist decommissioning before entering a powersharing executive. They too have a veto on its formation. Use it like the Unionists did.
    Posted by slug on Jul 13, 2006 @ 10:12 PM

    Although this is a legit request it is not helpful.

    I would rather allow this to happen without pre-condition, as with Sinn Fein joining the PSNI board.

    I think both things are easier to achieve if they are presented as concessions rather than requirments to their respecive rank and file.

  • Greenflag

    ‘But realpolitik (yes, I’m holding my nose) will always come up. ‘

    Talks between the Irish Government and the UDA might actually achieve something (and yes we can all hold our noses )

    No talks between the DUP and SF will achieve what ?

    Another generation of political and economic instability with the strong possibility of a renewal of widespread communal conflict .

    Is that what the DUP want ? It certainly seems so .

  • joeCanuck

    You know, I suspect that in 40 years time, we will still be arguing about this and the Orangemen will still be marching, albeit in sweltering heat, and the rest of the world will be agonizing over “what do we do to reverse this global warming?”

  • Turbo Paul

    Whataboutary, in 10 years time, Northern Ireland has a vibrant economy, zero unemployment, devolved govt that is astute at extracting Billions from the EU for all kinds of projects, a new generation of pragmatic politians working together for the common good.

    If “Governments continuing to court UDA approval..
    and “Shift in Sinn Fein engagement with PSNI
    produce positive results, then today has been a good for Ireland.

  • k

    The governments are courting UDA approval?
    What planet do you all live on? Have the past few years taught you nothing? PSNI/RUC special branch have infiltrated both the UVF and UDA to the extent that they don’t just have agents in these organisations, they effectively run them.
    If the British Government grabbed a hold of Special Branch, they could close down the UDA and UVF tomorrow.
    How can the Shoukris be prosecuted for UDA membership while others meet both governments solely on the basis that they are leading members of the UDA and escape prosecution? The law is blind? Don’t make me laugh.
    Like most things in this failed statelet, it’s an absolute farce and total charade.

  • Turbo Paul

    k
    Like most things in this failed statelet, it’s an absolute farce and total charade.

    If the absolute farce and total charade being played out by both sides results in devolved power, an end to paramiltary criminality and all sides working for the common good, then that must be a good thing.

  • k

    Cloud cuckoo land again.
    The UDA and UVF have never promised an end to paramilitary activity. They have only ever said that they will may suspend armed activity while they deem the union to be safe, i.e. if the taigs get uppity then its back to machine gunning pubs again.
    It absolutely sickens me to see these sectarian, drug dealing butchers being treated as politicians in Dublin. Ahern should be ashamed of himself. Even though I disagree fundamentally with the DUP, they have a mandate and represent a section of the nation. Who do the UPRG represent? Not the loyalist people. How many UPRG councillors are there?
    It seems that if you break the law, it’s only a crime if the NIO and so-called security services decide that it suits their current agenda to prosecute you. Nothing is worth this. Devolved power? What did that achieve the last time?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Harpo: “Pity that it wasn’t included in the peace deal then, isn’t it? You can think that all you want, but as I see it there is no logical scenario whereby the loyalists are going to give up any weaponry. ”

    C’mon, Harpo — here’s a scenario — common sense, combined with a dose of law and order.

    Frankly, I’d purely love to know what some folks were thinking when they gave some of these weapons to the hoods — what kind of nimrod gives another nimrod a battlefield rifle for urban work?

    Besides, do you really want the recurring spectacle of Loyalist fraticidal conflicts? This year, we might even get a twofer — a UDA housecleaning AND the standard LVF/UVF feud.

    Turbo Paul: “They have to be brought in from the cold, no matter how much it might disgust some of us. ”

    Hopefully before too many of them put themselves in the morgue.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    k: “The UDA and UVF have never promised an end to paramilitary activity. They have only ever said that they will may suspend armed activity while they deem the union to be safe, i.e. if the taigs get uppity then its back to machine gunning pubs again. ”

    Yeah, but when we’re very very still, they tend to get bored and kill one another. Patience is not only a virtue, but a weapon… Head down and stay quiet. Let them be bored. As I said before, we may get a double spectacle this year.

    K: “It absolutely sickens me to see these sectarian, drug dealing butchers being treated as politicians in Dublin. Ahern should be ashamed of himself. Even though I disagree fundamentally with the DUP, they have a mandate and represent a section of the nation. Who do the UPRG represent? Not the loyalist people.”

    No, they represent the spides, the chavs — the gun-totin’ willing to kill folks… Unionism’s misbegotten bastard children, les enfants de perdue. It’d be tragic if they weren’t such idiots.

    k: “It seems that if you break the law, it’s only a crime if the NIO and so-called security services decide that it suits their current agenda to prosecute you. Nothing is worth this. ”

    Hey, if the state is willing to let this collection of moral-retards kill one another off, what are we to do but get a pint and bucket of popcorn? That is what its going to come down to. They get bored without Taigs to shoot, so they kill one another over drug turf or graffiti or whatever the cause of the nite happens to be.

    Yeah, its cynical, but what do you want from a fella named after a tentacled horror from beyond space and time?

  • Mainlander

    “It’d be tragic if they weren’t such idiots”

    “They” may well be; the man at the top,is undoubtedly scum, but unfortunately idiot he ain’t.

    He’s winding his golf buddy’s missus rite round his little finger and also has Bertie under some kind of mesmirising spell.

    Bypass the DUP and get in with the “boys at the sharp face” and while you’re at it don’t forget to start pumping some euros up into the deprived heartlands of loyalist Ulster.

    And maybe we’ll think about becoming respectable entrepreneurs open up a few flower shops and put away the guns. And the Es. And the cack. And the whizz. And the smuggling. And the racketeering. And the prossie rings and….

    Everyone’s (except the sourfaced oul fundos) a winner.

    But course, I’m probably being unduly pessimistic.

    I’m sure Mary and Bertie are too fly to fall for any such blatant tricks.

  • TRUTH

    CORRUPT JUSTICE SYSTEM
    RULED
    BY CORRUPT GOVERNMENT?

    FOOD FOR THOUGHT . . .

      
    Ian Paisley Jnr
    (Thursday, August 10)

    “Setting one side against the other”

    The Government is playing rival loyalist groups against each other
    The DUP has said.

    FINALLY – THE TRUTH IS SPOKEN!

    Party security spokesman Ian Paisley Jnr said that while he did not think the Government was sophisticated enough to switch feuds on and off, “they are working to that end”. “If they thought they could control it to that degree they would.”

    A loyalist source said there was no way the Government would have let those supporting the Shoukri brothers win the latest UDA feud.

    He said an eye must now be kept on what the Government planned to do with the south east brigade of the UDA which was “not toeing the line”.

    Mr Paisley said the Government could “certainly influence” what is happening on the streets.

    “In terms of their negotiations and keeping the UDA on board, the Government uses the old carrot and stick routine,” he said.

    “Plus, they can lift people wherever and whenever they want. They decide who gets prosecuted and who can be resettled elsewhere.

    Mr Paisley said he knew the Government was “quite happy to speak with forked tongues to all of the organisations, telling them one thing to their faces and doing something else behind their backs.”

    “That is why I think no politician worth their salt can trust an NIO official. They make sure they deal with them, but deal with them very cautiously and with great scepticism.”

    “Obviously, they have a political agenda of where they want and need everybody to be”

    “It was clear that Andre Shoukri had to go.”

    “When it suited them to have the Shoukris on the streets, they were, and when it suited them to have them off the streets, they were taken off.”

    “The Shoukris are not particularly any worse than many of the other brigadiers. The media is used an awful lot by the Government. They help put people in the spotlight, help make them figures of hate – even though they may not be any worse than others.”

    Would this possibly explain why Ihab Shoukri has spent approximately 3 years in prison or released on strict bail conditions and never been convicted of any charge?

    Is this also why after having charges dropped for suspected UDA/UFF membership only 2 weeks later he was rearrested and charged with the exact charges which had been dropped 2 weeks previous – which he is now, yet again, being currently remanded in custody for?

    How can our ’Justice System’ hold a man in custody for ‘suspected UDA/UFF’ when every week in our papers we have men admitting they are ’Brigadiers’ who actually rule these illegal organisations?

    Is the Government planning to arrest all the men off the streets who ‘they believe’ to be involved in these organisations?

    After reading all of the above and now discovering the truth of how our ‘Justice System / Government’ wheedle this country and its people to meet the needs of its ‘own agenda’, who can we trust for impartiality and justness?

    YOU DECIDE
    MAYBE THE ANSWER FOR THE VICTIMISATION AND CHARACTER DESTRUCTION OF THE SHOUKRI BROTHERS IS SO SIMPLE – ITS STARING US STRAIGHT IN THE FACE . . .

    WE HAVE A RACIST GOVERNMENT?

    WHO WILL CONTEST FOR EQUALITY AND HONOURABLE JUSTICE; NOT ONLY FOR THESE MEN BUT FOR THOSE IN THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE TO COME . . . ?