As the search of the Mansion House in Dublin ends with nothing being found, or as RTÉ reports “nothing of a suspicious nature was found.” – a search sparked by the report noted by Fair Deal – the BBC claims that they have learned [by reading their former security editor’s report? – Ed] that the UVF “is considering re-engaging with the de Chastelain arms commission”.. of course, if they did read that Belfast Telegraph report, they’d have seen the heavily emphasised caveats…From the Belfast Telegraph
But a declaration on the future of the UVF and Red Hand Commando still depends on a political deal – on devolved government at Stormont.
The UVF still wants the Irish Government to make clear its position on joint-authority – on a political Plan B if Paisley and the Provos can’t make a deal.
“In the event of devolution, it will certainly mean that the UVF and Red Hand will make that statement of intent, but we don’t want this to be used to put pressure on those unionist politicians involved in the negotiations,” one of the loyalist leaders told me.
But then he added: “Now is the time to bite the bullet, to go in (to government) and guarantee the Northern Ireland position while unionism is strong and confident.”
He said this should be done before Sinn Fein becomes politically stronger on both sides of the border.
The Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey recently called on the loyalist paramilitaries to engage with the Independent Monitoring Commission, and the decommissioning body, the IICD, but that won’t happen this side of a political deal.
“It’s not for any sinister reason,” one of the UVF leaders told me, “but the mechanism of this consultation (inside the UVF and Red Hand) has always been about, this is ourselves making these decisions without any other agendas playing out.”
A statement on targeting, exiling, recruitment and punishment attacks will also have to wait until after any political deal, but the UVF did address a number of specifics yesterday – the reported threats to Raymond McCord and a journalist.[emphasis added]
Brian Rowan seems convinced that the mention of an alleged, and failed, bomb attempt 25 years ago from his anonymous interviewees is an indication of sincerity..
“The curtain is coming down. Why else are we being told about that bomb in 1981?”
Why else? The headline grabbing search for
one that fire extinguisher[added link]… and a convenient hook on which to hang the rest of the story as the UUP considers what to do next about their link with the UVF’s political wing.
But the caveats on that story only serve to highlight a point Reg Empey himself made in June..
“The problem of loyalist paramilitaries has evolved over 35 years and this exercise cannot be completed in the space of three weeks – there is progress to be made,” he said.
“Having said that, we will know relatively quickly whether those with whom we are engaged with are being disingenuous.”
How quickly, and how disingenuous the ‘good’ UVF are [more, or less, disingenuous than the ‘good’ UDA? – Ed], are questions that remain.