UDA not meeting GAA

Loyalist leaders including Jackie McDonald were due to attend a meeting in the West Belfast Patrick Sarsfield GAA club. This meeting was organised by the organisation Standing Northern Ireland Peace Process (SNIPP). The GAA club, however, cancelled the visit by the loyalists making the following comments:“Our priority remains with young people of Patrick Sarsfield and the prospect of a security and media presence at our premises clashes with various games and activities being hosted.”

The club added that it also had worries about the people invited to attend the function and felt uncomfortable with an alleged paramilitary leader coming to the club.

“We feel it is too sensitive an issue given the murders and treatment of GAA members at the hands of loyalist paramilitaries.

We fully support cross-community initiatives and the club is used regularly by various individuals and groups but with reference to the publicity surrounding this event, numerous families and individuals whose loved ones were murdered have contacted us.

We feel that to host this event now would be insensitive to all concerned.

We realise that events such as this are paramount in the building of a new dispensation and the community should be engaged in dialogue.

This event was organised without our full knowledge or consent and we hope now that the matter shall be closed.”

This decision by the GAA club is to be applauded; just as no matter how well intentioned, SNIPP’s actions should be criticised. The GAA are quite correct to note that many members of the GAA and the broader nationalist community were murdered by the organisations which Mr. McDonald and his cohorts claim to be leaders of. Unlike the UDA the GAA is a legal organisation and whatever criticisms some may have of it: it was not set up purely to murder people and, in stark contrast to the UDA, does make a significant and valid contribution to Northern Irish society.

Of course what Mr. McDonald and co are indulging in is an attempt to paint themselves as the leaders of working class unionism rather than unelected and unelectable parasites upon them. Mr. McDonnell and co are desperate to achieve any form of legitimate relevance within Northern Irish society: something they have always conspicuously lacked. As such they are more than happy to meet with practically anyone: be it Mary McAleese, working class nationalists, the DUP or anyone else so foolish as to meet them. In this case talking to these people is actively dangerous as it might give some, even microscopically thin veneer of respectability and legitimacy to these individuals and, hence, to the criminal organisations which they front.

Some within the working class nationalist community may well wish to reach out a hand of friendship or mutual respect to working class unionist communities. Such initiatives are again entirely laudable. However, the UDA do not represent anything other than the oppressors of working class unionists. Whilst the alphabet soup may no longer murder Roman Catholics (except of course young Mr. Devlin and Ms. Dorrian): they continue to blight the lives of working class Protestants and are, no doubt, quite happy to similarly afflict the lives of anyone of any class and creed whom they can suck into drug dependency and, hence, line their own pockets.

Apart from the loyalists, the others who need to be castigated in this are the likes of Mr. McCorry of SNIPP who said “I believe it’s a genuine attempt by them to move forward and I’ve been impressed by what they are saying.” The levels of naivety in such a statement are so colossal as to be unbelievable and one is left wondering to what extent Mr. McCorry actually can believe such a thing and whether in reality he is simply trying to grab headlines for his own organisation. Fortunately the GAA seem unwilling to be as utterly foolish. They have, by rebuffing Mr. McDonald and his ilk, done much more for working class unionists than Mr. McDonald will ever do. Following his rebuff Mr McDonald has promised that the UDA “won’t be found wanting” and is “committed to this sharing process.” Of course the UDA have repeatedly been found wanting of any trace of usefulness or commitment to anything other than criminality. Everyone knows what they should do: give up their guns and go away. However, expecting them to do that would be to be as naïve as Mr. McCorry.