UDA’s cash for old guns deal…

David Ervine always argued that Loyalist violence was essentially reactive to the IRA’s campaign. Well there are probably more that a few Catholic relatives of the victims down through the years wondering what they did that warrented the violence meted out to their loved ones. But if that basic political premise is true, many current member must be wondering why they are still being asked to pay their dues given the IRA has finally gone away. Lindy McDowell is also puzzled as to why a Stormont minister is offered her own reasons as to why it might be necessary:

“I am deeply concerned about this. I inherited it – I wouldn’t have done it,” she [Minister Ritchie] said yesterday (Monday). All she can do is to scrutinise the contract and, if she can’t find a legal loophole, insist on a rigorous process of evaluation.

She said she is currently consulting the PSNI, the Community Relations Council, the Independent Monitoring Commission and Farset, the organisation which has undertaken the weaning, and that she will bring her findings to the executive.

Yes, the UDA must transform. We don’t need a band of paramilitary killers and we could do without drug dealing, pimping and extortion too. It is safe to say that the UDA will make far more than £1.2 million on these activities over the next three years. It won’t willingly hand over its guns to save this project.

In the world of community development, decent pay and three-year contracts are rare, even for highly skilled, well-trained staff who have given years of committed service. They work for low pay on short-term contracts within communities ruined by decades of conflict and gangsterism. Why should the UDA have it both ways?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty