Jim Gibney argues that “the carrot not the stick is needed to strengthen the pro-peace process UDA leadership” (ie the ‘good’ UDA). Strangely, although he mentions “Davy Adams, Gary Mc Michael, Billy Hutchinson and the late David Ervine”, without mention of the political projects that any of them were involved with. His piece scopes out a nasty dilemma:
The options facing those with influence over the UDA are simple: Help and support those in the leadership who are for the peace process and isolate those who are not or run the risk that this large organisation could disintegrates further into an armed criminal gang, which could threaten political progress here.
The problem is both a political and a policing one, although the solution is more political than policing.
Chief Constable Hugh Orde must ensure the UDA is free from manipulation by the intelligence services.
The PSNI can then confidently and effectively focus on the drug barons and peddlers.
Unionist politicians should publicly commit themselves to working with pro-peace loyalists and assist working-class communities to rid their areas of those preying on them.
Support of this nature will give the UDA leadership the space it needs to develop its political project unhindered.
Two questions arise:
– how we deduce that the UDA is free from manipulation by the intelligence services, when the one public body charged with oversight of the police, which, under the terms of the most recent agreement, has been purged of any oversight over their activities.
– what legitimate means is a paramilitary organisation going to use “to rid their areas” of the “drug barons and peddlars?”
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