Shaun Woodward has again pronounced about the continued progress made by the loyalists towards decommissioning. The BBC are reporting that loyalists could be moving towards decommissioning. I believe that Australia is also moving towards the equator: it is an interesting question which is occurring more quickly and which has more practical relevance. However, Mr. Woodward seems to be the sort of person who believes that the emperor’s new clothes are truly resplendent. I suppose it is just conceivable that loyalists may decommission something by Woodward’s deadline. However, I would suggest that the possibility of them decommissioning all their weapons is extremely remote and that the purely carrot approach taken by Woodward and a number of his predecessors will have resulted in this process being extremely slow if it does by chance occur.
Terrorists like all criminals tend to take bribes as a sign of weakness, grab the concession and not deliver their side of the bargain. The other problem of course is that the loyalists have nothing to give them any importance save their guns; or to quote the loathsome phrase of one of their political representatives Our mandate is the silence of the guns. Of course once their guns have gone what mandate these criminals have will also go. As such they will of course spin out the process for as long as conceivably possible. It may be that Woodward is serious about this being the last chance for loyalists. However, Woodward is in grave danger of being the boy who cried wolf too often.
The stick approach might have resulted in an earlier end to the loyalists’ reign of terror over working class unionist communities and might even have saved the lives of some of the loyalists’ recent victims. However, as I have mentioned before, that presupposes that Woodward cares about working class unionist communities and let us be honest there is abundant evidence that he does not.
Another person who has recently been talking about loyalists is of course Peter Robinson. This is not an anti Robinson rant but I again suggest that this is a deeply erroneous strategy. Robinson is correct of course that it is excellent that loyalists have not murdered anyone in retaliation for the republican murders. However, to meet with the leaders of the oppressors of the working class unionist community to show pleasure that they are not murdering people is, I believe, to give these thugs a veneer of credibility which they richly ill deserve. The rest of us have of course murdered no one in reaction to these crimes and simply because this group of drug dealers and pimps are not adding another crime to their usual litany is no cause for plaudits. To be fair to Robinson he has of course noted that loyalists should never have engaged in murder at any time during the Troubles. However, I would suggest that for our Fist Minister or Secretary of State to meet any of these criminals is inappropriate. Welcoming their inaction and praising them for it will almost certainly result in them wanting something in return. In addition though I am sure it is not Robinson or Woodwards’ intention it demonstrates that people go to talk to them because they have the potential to murder people. That potential is of course sustained by their illegally held weapons. As such there is a grave danger that accidentally such entreatment with these criminals reinforces (in the terrorists minds) the utility of keeping weapons. It is indirectly like complementing Grandma on how big her teeth are.
It is long, long past the time that loyalists terrorists see none of the carrot at all but instead a healthy dose of the stick. The only meetings they should be at are those held firstly in places like Antrim Serious Crime Suite, then the Crown Court and then after a long delay with the NI probation service. Or to finish the fairy tale analogy it is time for the troll to meet the big billy goat gruff.