UDA facing a problem

Brian Rowan has an article in the Belfast Telegraph today discussing the IMC, the IRA Army Council and the UDA.I have recently mentioned the IRA army council and there is no need to spend vast amounts of time on it, save to mention Rowan’s comment that “time has passed since the Northern Bank robbery and other IRA linked actions.” This is interesting and seems to imply that there is some form of ultra short statute of limitations on terrorist activities. I would be surprised if ordinary robberies and murderers did not really matter after a year or so.

Moving to the issue of the UDA, however, the situation is equally interesting and morally vacuous. Rowan suggests that sources have told him that the UDA leadership “has a problem” in terms of winding up “And I’m not sure how soluble it is.” It seems that the UDA may be unable to tell its members what to do. This may well be the case. However, this does beg the question why then is anyone is talking to the UDA, why was there ever any consideration of giving them money for going away?

The UDA and its self appointed leadership of “brigadiers” may or may not be facing a problem. It certainly appears that loyalist paramilitary criminality has far from gone away. However, there is a more important issue: the UDA are a problem at all levels of their illegal criminal organisation. There is a solution to this problem: it is the rigorous enforcement of the rule of law and locking up those who commit crimes, including the crime of UDA membership. If the UDA leadership is a powerless and weak organisation then there is no need to entreat with it and no need to take it seriously; it should be ignored and the forces of law and order should deal severely with those in possession of weapons and all other criminal activities. If on the other hand it is a powerful organisation that changes nothing: it is still an illegal organisation composed of a group of criminals who should be locked up. The main problem the UDA leadership should have is the legitimate fear of arrest and prolonged imprisonment. That they seem to have less fear of this than they should have is a problem for all of us in this society. A problem we should demand be solved.