“How can you ask loyalists to decommission..”

Previously the de facto leader of the UDA, Jackie McDonald, told Channel 4 News why the UDA had held onto “the peoples’ guns” and how they would “do their best to maintain a sense of law and order in their own communities.” In a lengthy interview in today’s Irish News [no subs req for now] he revisited the topic [do you think he liked the photo? – Ed] and pointed to the recent attack on a policeman near Strabane.

“This week we have a policeman blown up with an under-car bomb,” [McDonald] said. “Now the dissidents may not have the same capacity the IRA had but the fact is this has happened and we don’t know when it will happen again or who will be the next target. How can you ask loyalists to decommission when we are sitting here not knowing when the next attack will be? There are criminal gangs now with more money and weapons at their disposal than paramilitaries on either side ever had. The police aren’t willing or able to deal with them and so we continue to be led by opinion within our own community.”

Of course, concern for the police hasn’t always been a priority for the UDA. But Jackie might be forgiven for thinking ‘where have all the good times gone..’ And there may also be some carotene-withdrawal symptoms involved..