The PUP, the UVF and bridges

During and after the last Ice Age it is suggested that mainland GB was not an island but was linked to continental Europe by a vast land bridge called Doggerland.

Brian Ervine the recently installed leader of the Progressive Unionist Party has tried to suggest that the link between the PUP and the UVF was a “bridge” and that the UVF and PUP were related in a very limited way. (Pete has a blog on one of his recent interviews here). The recent rioting in Rathcoole has, however, once again thrown the closeness of the relationship into focus.

Ken Wilkinson, a local PUP member (not an elected politician) criticised the PSNI conduct of raids relating to the Historical Enquiries Team which appears, according to Wilkinson, to have been the explanation for the rioting:

“The way the PSNI conducted themselves towards that lady left a lot to be desired and it caused a lot of anger – tensions were rising,” he

“I personally contacted police to let them know about that situation – that things were stirring – but that information was not adhered to.”

Wilkinson told the News Letter that several community workers and members of the UVF had been on the ground near Rathcoole on both nights, attempting to calm the situation.

“We were directing cars and buses away, doing our best – but with a big crowd there’s only so much that you can do.”

In contrast to Wilkinson’s claims that the UVF members were trying to calm the situation the PUP leader Brian Ervine stated (as noted by Pete):

“I have no doubt that UVF personnel were involved in the rioting in Newtownabbey,” he said.
“However the UVF did not sanction the violence.”

To add to this a number of church leaders have now visited Mr. Wilkinson. They (the church leaders) stated:

“Certainly the only thing coming so far was very strong accusations and finger-pointing towards the UVF as the instigator, so it is only right
that they have the opportunity to defend themselves and give their side of the story before strong accusations and condemnations are made.”

“They do accept that there was some responsibility from people within the organisation that they will look at themselves.”

From Ken Wilkinson:

“I, like other people within the PUP and people connected within the UVF….”

The dichotomy is interesting between Brian Ervine claiming that the PUP and UVF are only linked in a “bridge” typed fashion and Ken Wilkinson being only too pleased to meet the churchmen to discuss UVF involvement in the riots.

It seems the PUP are only too happy to promote their link to terrorists when it suits them whereas when it is inconvenient they attempt to minimise that link: sometimes when discussing the one incident. The church leaders certainly seem to have regarded the bridge between Ken Wilkinson and the UVF as pretty strong. The bridge is maybe more of a land bridge like Doggerland than a Carrick a reid typed rope one.