West Belfast Talks and elsewhere

At a West Belfast Festival debate Martin McGuinness repeated his May stance on the Army Council and the IMC:

“The IRA have clearly gone off the stage and have done so since 2005 but there’s still attempts being made by some people to drag them back on and I think that’s silly.”

While the DUP’s Nelson McCausland said he believed it still existed but its removal would be significant. As regards Loyalism, Dawn Purvis, after some confusion on whether there was a decommissioningt debate going on said:

“If we’re trying to build a normal, modern, democratic, European society, there is no excuse for holding onto weapons and I’ve already started that debate,”

Meanwhile in a DUP press statement Jeffrey Donaldson stated:

“The Unionist electorate want to see the complete and total disappearance of all paramilitary groups, both Loyalist and Republican. These groups have no place in Northern Ireland – they are a noose around the neck of the working-class communities in which they operate and their departure will be welcomed by all right-thinking people.”

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Donaldson, unwittingly, gets to the heart of the matter. He speaks of the “Unionist electorate”. Not Unionists (including those who don’t vote) or, better still, victims or even all of the people of NI but the “unionist electorate”. This is all about posturing and votes.
    Might as well ask for Keyser Soze to be arrested and charged

  • lorraine

    i look forward to jeffery & co. working as assiduously to bring about loyalist decommissioning and disbandment as they have done on the republican side.

  • Well Lorraine, if we all go out and vote for loyalist killers at the next election to create a comparable scenario by ensuring they’re entitled to a place in the executive maybe that will be accomplishable.

    And BJ, you’ve no idea the distaste I have for wee Jeffrey but I doubt he’s clever enough to have deliberately chosen his words for the reasons you suggest.

  • Mark

    Lorraine, are you also looking forward to Martin & co downplaying the importance of loyalist decommissioning and claiming it’s a non-issue like they did on the Republican side?

  • lorraine

    semantics boys, semantics. loyalism and republicanism are two distinct entities: while republicans sought an alternative to armed struggle, loyalists revelled in the violence and macho posturing it bestowed upon them.
    republicans have moved, times have changed and what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. onwards to a more tolerent society where we can live for a future rather than constantly harp on about a past.

  • Lorraine, none of these paramilitary organisations should exist in a tolerant society and the ‘moral’ electorate IMO has held back progress towards a peaceful and prosperous society by voting for their political wings at a time when the organisations are deeply involved in organised crime.

  • Dec

    Purvis also claimed that there was no demand in her community to hand over arms. The disinterest of Unionist politicians of all shades (including the PSNI) in pursuing non-republican decommissioning would appear to support her remarks.

  • Lenny

    So Nevin, like all unionists you refuse to recognize that the DUP were the political wing of the loyalist paras. Its only them nasty nationalists that vote for supporters of violence isn’t it. The UDP and PUP did not receive mass support because the unionist paramilitaries already had their political wing –the DUP.

  • Earth to Lenny… come in Lenny

  • Lenny

    Yes awm?

  • Blackmouth


    Purvis is wrong in what she said. Ordinary working-class Protestants in places like Donegall Pass, Sandy Row, Lower Newtonards Road etc want these paramilitaries gone right now.

    For goodness sake, Tiger’s Bay survived 30 years of the Troubles and was actually destroyed by 10 years of the UDA on ceasefire!

  • POL

    Nelson also stated the ruc were goodies, there was no discrimination and Derry had a fair electoral process.

    He also stated that Iris is entitled to air her views on homosexuality and Mervyn Storey his on creationism, because they are personal views. So the holocoust deniers racists and homophobes can join up now. I wonder is there any collective views within the Dup apart from dinnae want a taig aboot the place.

    He also blamed the Provos for hijacking the civil rights movement during 1968…and theres me thinking they came out of the ashes of 69

  • Lenny, I vote across the UUP-SDLP political spectrum. I suppose Alliance is one of the few parties not to have been part of a pan-Unionist or a pan-Nationalist coalition, coalitions that contained paramilitaries.

  • john McCruddin

    I have been to this part of the festival every year since it’s beginning.
    I must clearly state that I and other believe that the quality of questions get worse every year without fail and the intellect of the audience is on a par with neanderthals sporting a frontal labotomy.

    Time to close this community embarrassment down and now!

    John McCruddin

  • Grassy Noel


    I’m from that community and I was there last night.

    I disagree strongly with your bar stool views, and I object to your incorrect use of apostrophes, poor spelling, and ropey sentence construction.

    You sound drunk and bitter. And stupid.

  • Seimi

    I wasn’t at the event last night, but someone who was told me that McGuinness said he could see a United Ireland within 10-15 years, and that the Unionists on the panel didn’t say anything to deny this. Is this true Grassy Noel?

  • Lillipudian


    That is a gross misrepresentation of what Nelson McCausland said.


    No. William Crawley asked McGuinness if he thought there would a United Ireland and he said there could be. He then straw-polled the audience and a majority voted that they couldn’t see one happening in 10-15 years time.

  • Grassy Noel


    as Lillipudian stated…


  • Seimi

    Ah, ok. Obviously the person I spoke to wasn’t really paying attention 🙂

    Cheers for that Lillipudian and GN

  • Turgon

    Very well said blackmouth.

    The so loyalist paramilitaries have always been of no benefit whatsoever to the unionist community. They have always been and will always remain a bunch of thuggish criminals. Once they were involved in murdering Roman Catholics, intimidating Roman Catholics, murdering and intimidating Protestants, running drugs, stealing from local people, extorting money from hard working people and generally ruining anything they could.

    Now they have changed: they do all the above but do not murder people. Oh well actually they still do that on both sides of the community, so in reality they have not changed one jot.

    Ms. Purvis would rather complain when the police try to stop such activity (however inadequate their attempts to do this) instead of support her own constituents against this cancer in their midst. Rather then “start a debate” maybe she should stand up and denounce these criminals though I will not be holding my breath. Hopefully sooner rather than later she will be removed by the electorate.

  • Comrade Stalin


    What you’re saying about how bad loyalists are is all very well, but until you address the historic relationship they have always maintained with mainstream unionism, no matter how tenuous, then you’re wasting your time. Why did David Ervine know the colour of Ian Paisley’s wallpaper ? And if you guys end up making life hard for the DUP, you can be sure that there is plenty that they can do to embarass the TUV about the connections of some of it’s shadier members. They’ll have no qualms about wheeling those tactics out if the going starts to get rough. Unionism may yet have it’s day of reckoning.

    I had to laugh at Jeffrey Donaldson. This is the guy who asked Kenny McClinton in a private email “is that what you fought for?”. In what other ways is Donaldson’s attitude different in private from what it is in public ?

  • Turgon

    Comrade Stalin,

    I do not particularly like speaking ill of the dead and I am no standard bearer for Dr. Paisley but why do we believe the claims of a convicted criminal which is all Ervine ever was? This the man who seemed to think that there was a time when murdering Roman Catholics (and others) was fine. He was a dishonest criminal and as such I put no store by his self serving claims.

    As to tenuous links between loyalists criminals and unionists I condemn them. They were pretty tenuous but were utterly wrong. I am disappointed to see you buying even a little bit into the “Unionists were as linked to terrorists as SF was” typed narrative.

    If you want to go down the tenuous links line: Remind us about Alliance helping Dawn Purvis and giving her briefing papers etc.

  • POL



    That is a gross misrepresentation of what Nelson McCausland said.


    No. William Crawley asked McGuinness if he thought there would a United Ireland and he said there could be. He then straw-polled the audience and a majority voted that they couldn’t see one happening in 10-15 years time.
    Posted by Lillipudian on Aug 07, 2008 @ 04:21 PM

    I doubt it Lillipudian i pretty much know what i heard, but do enlighten me. And i pretty much witnessed the show of hands and for you to say that a majority were nays is a tad mischievous.I seen it as probably 50/50 with the majority abstaining.Now i was standing along the back wall and had a very good view of the entire venue, but dont let that put you off.

  • RepublicanStones

    Was at the Palestine lecture in St Mary’s tonight. Enlightening, but the more you hear the angrier one becomes at the injustice. Anyone else at it?

  • Steve


    the links between loyalist terrorists and main stream unionists is only tenuous to the mainstream unionists. to the rest of us the truth of it is plain as the lines on your face

  • Driftwood

    Who was the speaker? Bob Fisk? who is the most highly regarded correspondent on that part of the world.
    Steve, many many “mainstream” unionists want nothing to do with paramilitary groups, and never have done. Do you think, for example, a unionist voter in Kircubbin is linked with scumbag criminals? Evidence please.

  • RepublicanStones

    “Unionists were as linked to terrorists as SF was” typed narrative’

    Unionism in the north was intially based on terrorism, importaing illegal arms and the threat of violence, the fact that events in parliament mean they held more politcal power than a minor colonial part should have done and were thus able to force through their sectarian agenda does not absolve form the fact. Don’t for one second try and pretend they would not have used those weapons had they not been the ballast a certain Govt needed in parliament at that time. Never mind the amount of British army weapons which have continually found their way into loyalist hands. I don’t recall the provies running around with too many Steyr AUGs !

  • Steve

    RUC, RIR, B Specials, DUP, UUP, OO, ABOD, PUP

    Gerrymandering, Internment, Diplocks, Storomont, Belfast City Council

  • Diluted Orange

    So the most progress that Dawn Purvis and the PUP can muster in 14 years since the original loyalist ceasefires is to ‘start a debate’? The time for starting a debate is surely long past.

    The problem here is that Republicans had a bargaining chip for decommissioning their weapons – they swapped guns for political power. Despite the long drawn out process in decommissioning their arsenal, the IRA’s actions, were in hindsight, completely inevitable, especially as their mandate grew and it became far more evident that their aspirations would be much more likely to bear fruit through political means rather than through violence.

    Loyalist paramilitaries have never had that nice juicy carrot dangling in front of them. The numb-skulls who run the UDA etc haven’t a brain cell between them, nor have they developed any kind of political vision: beyond wiping out all Catholics. As much as I dislike them, Sinn Fein and the Republican movement have worked on a propaganda campaign for decades. They have at least tried to engage a broader audience, who were unreceptive their message when they were on the rampage. Loyalist paramilitaries have not and as a result they have never been able to seduce their own communities into voting for their political reincarnations or capture their imagination in the way Republicans have in their localities. Where is the community involvement for a start? The only time a I see a loyalist politician being agitated about what happens in their own backyard is when their bonfire gets torn down for Health & Safety reasons.

    The game is up. Loyalist paramilitaries are nothing more than jumped up organised criminals with a false pretence that they have some sort of legitimacy to protect ‘their’ people. Their sell-by date is long gone, they have no political support and they have no political ideas or ideals. It could have been different; they could have done a Sinn Fein. They could have so easily ate into the base of the DUP/UUP’s working class support and made much bigger in-roads in the many large loyalist estates throughout NI, much like the old NI Labour Party used to. Loyalist communities have been failed by the Unionist parties time and again and did the PUP or the UDP step up to the plate to provide an alternative voice for these people? No. They just stood idly by, whilst the hard men dragged those places into the gutter and then proffered empty excuses for organisations they had no control or influence over.

    The PUP and the UPRG are a joke. If they can’t, or won’t, persuade the loyalist paramilitaries to hand in their guns then what is the point in them? The same fate would have befallen SF if they had not had some sort of influence on the IRA. Either get with the program or everyone else, and their money, moves on. They should p#ss off back to the dole queue and all funding from the taxpayers pocket should cease immediately. It is an abhorrent and despicable waste of our taxes. Which other organised criminal gangs get £ millions from the government despite having no intentions of offering anything in return?

  • RepublicanStones

    Better than that driftwood, the main speaker was Dr Ghada Karmi, a actual witness to the Nakba, grim listening, but necessary to hear I feel. Dr Daoud Abdullah was there to speak on the refugee issue as well.

  • Driftwood

    I fail to see your point. All the people i mix with at Portaferry yacht Club wouldn’t recognise most of that. i live in a mixec village and all those organisations are alien or unknown.

  • Driftwood

    Those speakers, while valid, represent a constituency. Surely Fisk is better placed to offer a balanced POV?
    Maybe i should stick with Dawkins vs DUP?

  • Steve

    All the people i mix with at Portaferry yacht Club wouldn’t recognise most of that

    Doesnt exactly sound like main stream unionism to me

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Those speakers, while valid, represent a constituency.’

    Nice, just as I thought you would Driftwood. So the next time you hear a survivor of the WW2 or Armenian Holocausts or Sebrenica massacre speak, you’ll reiterate the same point, yes?

    Basically your saying

    “interesting, but yo’ve got an agenda !”

    I await your same rebuttal to the survivors of the aforementioned atrocities. Maybe you’ll have a word in a Tutsi’s ear and tell them the same.

  • Garibaldy


    Would they recognise the leaders of unionism during the UWC strike acting in concert with terrorists? Or Billy Wright standing beside Willy Mc Crea? Or the Loyalist Commission? Or the 2005 riots when shots were fired at the cops and army and both the mainstream unionist leaders blamed the cops? Your friends in the yacht club vote for those parties no doubt.

    Unionist politicians should engage with paramilitaries to encourage them to desist, but the idea that they have had no links throughout the Troubles is utter, utter nonsense.

  • Fair play Garibaldy.

    I never thought I’d see the day where you’d condemn the unionist/loyalist, anti-catholic, bigoted supporters of British imperialism, but you did, and I stand corrected.

    There’s hope for us all!

    Mea culpa.

  • Lillipudian


    I was standing at the side of the room and know what I saw.

    I heard the enitrety of the debate and stand by my assertion that your representation of McCausland’s comments is totally inaccurate.

  • Garibaldy

    Cheers Daithi – nothing like a good, old-fashioned backhanded compliment 🙂 Though in fairness to myself, I have made these points before.