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.


  • lamhdearg

    What would you like the P.U.P to do.

  • pippakin

    There is a need for a party like the P U P in the north. Most unionists duppers etc are amongst the most smug, self satisfied, politically indifferent I have ever come across.

    Working class loyalists need a voice and proper representation. The PUP need time for their new leader to adjust.

  • Carrickarede rope bridge – a virtual visit.

  • lamhdearg

    hello pip
    Working class loyalist do not have the numbers to get proper representation(even at council level) by electing enough people, all the P.U.P. U.D.P and turgons T.U.V. do is split the vote. Its all a bit P.F.J. to me, (peoples front of judea).

  • Turgon

    Working class unionists do elect political representatives. I agree they seem to have a lower voting rate than many other demographic but they do vote. They tend to vote largely DUP. The PUP nad UDP have stood repeatedly over the years and have been defeated almost without exception. It seems working class unionists do not want the PUP and their like to represent them. Despite this the PUP are frequently presented as “the authentic voice of working class unionism” and such like. It is utter nonsense.

    Before anyone states the obvious of course the TUV also did very badly at the last election. However, no one is trying to proclaim them as the real voice of a whole group of people who did not vote for them.

  • jim


  • Turgon

    You beat me to it.

  • alan56

    My concern is that there woud be no political way to engage or put pressure on the UVF if there was no PUP. I agree that they are largely (numerically) irrelevent but who knows perhaps they serve a purpose… especially if it is a ‘land bridge’?

  • lamhdearg

    pip wrote off working class loyalists.

  • lamhdearg

    wrote of.

  • lamh dearg,
    Okay fair enough. I agree that there is a problem regarding relative lack of working class representation in unionist areas. The UUP once had significant working class based representatives: Harold McCusker would probably have regarded himself as such. The DUP of course had a very large number of working class representatives. The gentrification of the unionist representatives is an issue though to be honest the same dynamic seems to exist with Labour in GB. I do not know what the solution is.

    What seems abundantly clear is that the PUP are not the answer. The working class unionist electorate in Belfast have repeatedly rejected them and in Belfast they are positively popular as compared to the working class areas of large predominantly unionist towns such as Craigavon, Ballymena, Coleraine etc. let alone the unionist working class populations of rural areas (people often forget the size of the working class population in the country).

    This lack of working class unionist support for the PUP is unsurprising. The PUP are (often by their own report) the representatives not of the working class but of the UVF. The UVF have of course been a much greater danger to working class unionists than to anyone else. They may murder fewer of them than before but for years they were involved in (and almost no one believes they are no longer involved in) drug dealing, extortion, prostitution and general criminality which has helped contribute to many of the areas they infest becoming urban wastelands.

    With that criminality and the idiotic idea they present that the working class unionists have repeatedly voted for “the wrong people” (ie proper unionist parties) it is unsurprising that the PUP are the authentic voice of themselves (and their UVF cohorts) alone.

  • lamhdearg

    Just to be clear on one thing i have never voted P.U.P.,as i wrote at 8:15 splitters.

  • lamh dearg,
    I am not accusing you at all. I think part of the problem is the definition of the term loyalist.

    In a political context it tends to mean PUP / UDP / loyalist terrorist supporter.

    In a cultural context such as “Wherever Young Loyalists Flute Band” is has a wider base. Some of the members of the bands would probably call themselves loyalists in the cultural sense but would not support loyalist political parties or loyalist terrorism. This distinction seems lost on those outside unionist marching traditions.

    I think some look at all the members of the bands etc. and mistakenly assume that all are working class (many are pretty middle class) and also assume that these people would all support loyalism in the political / terrorist sense. Again that is highly inaccurate.

  • Hopping The Border

    Has Jim Allister, TUV member (not an elected politician) made any statement on riotous Rathcoole recently?

    His condemnation and call for arrests during the Ardoyne riots was admirable, but surely given the wanton destruction and riotous behaviour he has issued the same call over Rathcoole?

  • Alias

    Actually, the PSNI took over Operation Ballast from Historical Enquiries Team so the raids have nothing to so with HET. We are now in the perverse situation where the PSNI is investigating allegations of collusion by itself with the Mount Vernon UVF.

    As former Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan disocovered, the PSNI colluded with the murder gang in the commission of serious crimes and protected its members from prosecution because they were police agents.

    The PSNI should be the subject of this investigation, not in control of it.

  • tacapall

    Indeed Alias, The British police investigating allegations of involvement in political and sectarian murders by members of the British police.

  • anne warren

    I can agree with this analysis, particularly that ” PUP are the authentic voice of themselves (and their UVF cohorts) alone”
    Which makes it all the more important to hear voices other than those you cited in the opening post.

    Chief Superintendent Henry Irvine rejected claims the raids were heavy-handed, saying there was “no sense or reason for the violence”.
    “Whenever the PSNI are carrying out searches and going about their lawful business, there’s no reason for this reaction.”

    Chief Supt Irvine said he rejected “any suggestion that police officers operated anything other than professionally”.
    “It’s a sad reflection on any community where police can’t go about their business without being attacked like this,” he said.

    Assistant chief constable Duncan McCausland said: “The reality is, there were sinister elements, paramilitary loyalist elements who wanted to make a message about the police going in and searching.
    “There were gunmen, let’s have no illusions about this, there were gunmen who were out on the frst night, who were seen by the fire and rescue service and members of the public.
    “I believe they were associated with the UVF and I know it was clearly the intention of that particular organisation to make a statement and they exploited the use of young people in making that statement.”

    Reverend Alan Miller, of St Comgall’s Church of Ireland:
    “People are frightened. I was speaking to a lady today who says she’s been threatened for speaking out against the violence, so there’s intimidation and there’s certainly fear.”
    Rev Miller said he believes the rioting was orchestrated but that it’s “open to speculation” what sparked it off.
    “It’s obviously done for a particular reason. We can only speculate why, but I’m sure the police have done searches before in the estate and this hasn’t happened so there’s something which is more sinister going on here.
    “People are now just keeping their mouths shut, their eyes down and their doors closed.”

    So we are looking at sinister elements (drug barons?) and gunmen orchestrating riots, exploiting children, intimidating residents and so on.

    The PSNI should be the only ones investigating PUP, UVF and rioters and delving into this background of intimidation and violence. All suspects should be brought to court and tried.

  • joeCanuck

    I fail to understand why some consider that there is a problem with political representation.
    Is there any difference between UVF thugs and their political pals and “dissident” republican thugs and their political pals?

  • lamhdearg

    I can not speak for pip. I was using the loyalist term in the context of those whom would have given support to the aims of loyalist paras.

  • Re-engaged

    It is simple – there is no reason why anyone in our community should react in such a fashion to a Police investigation and no need for anyone to even put the most general caveat or excuse out there for what happened last night.

    The only people interested in this are the gang masters and terrorists who still cling to what they believe were the good old days when they had a free run of our streets – we do not want you, do not need you and our society would (in it’s entirity) be better off without you.

    Those within the PUP may have good intentions but without clear and unequivocal responses to last night then they unfortunately can only be viewed as apologists for those who only have their self interest and preservation at heart in their own little fifedom.

  • lamh dearg,
    Yes I agree but I wonder if many outside unionism think that there are great numbers of supporters of loyalism (in a political sense) who are not represented. My thesis is that actually there are very small numbers of such people and those outside unionism misidentify large numbers of unionists as political loyalists.

  • joeCanuck

    Old soldiers stories never die, they just fade away. (Hopefully; there are more than a few including some police officers who should have been investigated but likely never will).

  • lamhdearg

    True or not there is a preception in loyalist circles the HET Psni are going at loyalists at full tilt, and are going after Pira with kidd gloves on,one can see why loyalists would think this after all if they go after the leaders of the Pira movement like they are going after the Uvf leaders we might find ourselves in a polictical pickle.

  • tacapall

    Thats the whole point of Alias’s post, the police investigating itself, the UVF and elements within the PSNI and the British government have a common interest that this investigation gets stopped in its tracks.

  • lamhdearg

    Small yes, but they have not gone away.

  • tacapall

    But are they really after the loyalists; or the RUC Special Branch men who directed them, those who were supposed to uphold the law, those who proactivly directed and covered up the murders of innocent people.

  • joeCanuck

    Ironic language, lamhderg.

  • lamhdearg

    the HET and the upholders of the law Psni must be seen to go after all the law breakers the same or the side that they go after to a greater extent will feel aggrieved. It is true that they cannot go after Piras leadership or stormont will fall so we are left with an aggrieaved loyalist people.

  • Stephen Blacker

    The PUP have always been the voice of reason within areas of working class protestants and they have had a limited but positive influence on the UVF/RHC. Leaders like Gusty Spence, David Ervine and Dawn Purvis kept a forward momentum progressing through the ranks, structures and mindsets of people that knew nothing but the “Troubles”.

    Unfortunately the PUP have no control over the actions of the UVF/RHC when they feel a situation merits an inappropriate response. The new PUP leader, Brian Ervine, has a very difficult job trying to convince people to integrate into a peaceful civic society especially when previous leaders have been unsuccessful.

    There is a need for a voice in loyalist areas and the PUP can do a good job of this but only if the UVF/RHC give them a chance. Riots and murder will continue to damage the peace making & political ambitions desired by the PUP and will eventually leave Brian Ervine with no other option just like his predecessor.

  • tacapall

    “the HET and the upholders of the law Psni must be seen to go after all the law breakers the same or the side that they go after to a greater extent will feel aggrieved”.

    Which is why they should go after those who were supposed to uphold the law but who totally disregarded the law first otherwise how can they be considered as impartial.

  • joeCanuck

    A bridge to the brigade (for anagram enthusiasts).

  • joeCanuck

    The investigation has been done. It’s all contained in the Stalker report. It just needs to be published (like other reports, in some cases self-serving ones. Are you listening, Peter?)

  • pippakin



    That is what I meant by needing time. If the PUP are to succeed they must spread their net. I’m not sure those areas vote for DUP etc because they want more of the same or because they feel voting any other way will let the ‘other side’ in.

  • pippakin

    By ‘loyalist’ I meant all those who vote unionist and DUP because they are afraid the alternative will be a ‘nationalist’ win. I used the word to emphasize the difference between the unionists and not to reflect the unionist/nationalist split.

    I believe many loyalists have more in common with nationalist ideas than they do with ‘unionist’ ideas. The only thing some seem to have in common is the choice of flag.

  • Turgon

    Stephen Blacker,
    “The PUP have always been the voice of reason”

    So when David Ervine told people he had not forgotten how to make bombs that was a “voice of reason” was it?

    When he described murdering Catholics as “returning the serve” that was “reason” was it?

    When Dawn Purvis criticised the arrest of Billy Hutchinson regarding with holding information regarding the murder of Thomas Devlin was that ” a voice of reason?”

    Even during this latest episode of thuggery Ken Wilkinson has criticised the searches in connection with murders. Plenty of criticism over the actions of the police: not a word about the murders of innocent Catholics which the police were investigating.

    The PUP have criticised the investigation of loyalist murders and the lack of investigation into those committed by republicans. Even if this was accurate which it is not (remember a man has recently been arrested over the IRA murder of John Proctor in 1981 in Magherafelt); it creates a very unsavoury picture. A political party should welcome the investigation of murders by the UVF and the IRA. Anything else makes them look suspiciously like apologists for the UVF murderers.

    The fact remains that the overwhelming majority of people in NI see the PUP as no more than the stooges and apologists for the UVF: that when they are not in actual fact one and the same people. This contempt for the PUP and loyalist terrorists seems shared by the overwhelming majority of working class unionists whom the PUP claim to represent. In actual fact of course when given the opportunity to decide who represents them working class unionists overwhelmingly reject the PUP.

  • Stephen Blacker


    I dont recall David Ervine saying that but if he did he was speaking in facts, I do remember his comment “returning the serve” which was said in the context of his mindset after Bloody Friday. Dawn Purvis was annoyed at the arrest of Billy H. because it was unnecessary because he was able and willing to answer any questions without the need for arrest, but sure I have told you that a number of times now. The cold blooded murder of young 15 year old Thomas Devlin was and still is condemned by Dawn Purvis, guess you never heard those comments.

    It seems that the current thinking of the PUP is that there is a perception in the loyalist family that there is an imbalance by the PSNI’s investigations into past crimes. A PUP member from East Belfast was on Nolan on Thursday and made a forceful arguement that he and others believe that there is moves within the dark side of the security services to demonise loyalism any way they can. This is their thoughts and we now know that the security forces are no beyond dirty tricks especially with what we know about their involvement with the Mount Vernon UVF.

    Most of the people I knew in the PUP have walked away since the Moffet murder and they could never be discribed as “one and the same people”. People dont vote for the PUP because they dont want to be seen as supporting “these monsters” as the media and yourself have labeled them. The truth is people like David Ervine, Dawn Purvis and others have led lots of people away from our Troubled past and encouraged the UVF/RHC to give up guns and if it was not for the PUP and UDP there would not have been the Good Friday Agreement. Their votes were needed to have a Unionist majority, of course I know what your feeling are on that!

  • USA

    Can’t argue with that.

  • Turgon

    Stephen Blacker,
    David Ervine was a terrorist bomber, Billy Hutchinson is a murderer: that is the actual truth. Dawn Purvis supposedly left as a principled act after the murder of Mr. Moffett. However, she joined the PUP the same year as the Loughinisland murders (it is unclear whether before or after the murders) and remained in the party during dozens of murders before resigning supposedly on principle after the latest one. That is far from a principled act.

    As to the perception that the HET are only interested in loyalist murders. How do you explain the arrest and charging of Seamus Martin Kearney for the murder of John Proctor?

  • JAH


    Your demonisation of David Irvine and the PUP has I suspect more to do with their role in ensuring that the GF agreement had the essential loyalist support it needed. I can still remember the roasting the good Dr received from PUP supporters when he still clung to his not an inch position. The same position TUV hold and which was roundly rejected a few months ago.

    Of course it would suit TUV if the PUP didn’t exist. Then TUV could try and appeal to working class loyalists as an alternative, a sort of Tea Party for loyalism. With BNP trappings if David Vance is a guide.

    I still remember watching some National Front canvassers being literally booted down the length of the Shankill in 1975 by the UVF. They’ve never had much truck with the far right.

    There has always been a strong element within the UVF which is worth appealing to.

  • Turgon

    “Your demonisation of David Irvine”
    I have not demonised him. He was the convicted UVF terrorist criminal who made the above statements. Ervine may be lionised by some in the media and a very few in politics. However, the overwhelming majority of the unionist (and nationalist) community view him as what he was: a sectarian terrorist criminal.

    “There has always been a strong element within the UVF which is worth appealing to.”

    No it is very well worth helping working class communities. Hence, far from appealing to the UVF they are the ones who need to be arrested and put in gaol. After all being in the UVF is in and of its self a criminal offence: one which is far too rarely prosecuted.

    If there ever had been an element in the UVF worth appealing to (which I do not believe) why are such people still in a criminal organisation linked to drug dealing, prostitution, racketeering etc. etc? The IRA ceasefire was years ago and as such the UVF has no self proclaimed raison d’etre. Not that they ever defended anyone from the IRA anyway: they just ran around killing people in a “Yabba Dabba Doo any taig will do fashion.”

    You are correct that the TUV did extremely badly in the elections: I have done blogs on it. However, had the PUP received that many votes it would be being proclaimed as a huge break through for them.

  • Ranger1640

    Anne, all I can say to your last sentence, Nail On Head. “So we are looking at sinister elements (drug barons?) and gunmen orchestrating riots, exploiting children, intimidating residents and so on”.

    What is needed is a non relenting police operation in all loyalist areas were they suspect drug dealing. Not until the PSNI deal with this cancer will the UVF and the UDA go away.

  • Turgon

    I agree. Furthermore prosecutions need to be recommenced for membership of the UVF / UDA. They are proscribed organisations and as such membership of them is illegal. For the names of so called UDA or UVF brigadiers to be in the public domain; for them to appear on the media and pontificate about loyalist organisations and for them then not to be arrested is unacceptable.

  • Cynic

    In NI we have a never never land of politics. Blair and his Croneys created a situation where anything went. Murder could be redefined as ‘housekeeping’. Organised criminals were allowed to take over and develop their empires with cover from connected politicians. From fuel laundering to tobacco smuggling to extortion and drugs – provided ‘the process’ continued then we could just ignore it.

    But is that what we really want for the future? On both sides?

    As a Unionist, let me be clear. The UVF are murdering drug dealing scum. I am terribly sorry that Ken Wilkinson thinks the police weren’t significantly deferential to ‘that lady’ while searching premises in a murder investigation. But frankly, I hope they took the place to pieces and found whatever evidence they could on a terrible crime. And if that upset her – well I am sorry love but tough. And if Mr Wilkinson doesn’t like that tough to him to. And if they continue to riot, pull the buses off and cut the funding for all the ‘community representatives’ who infest the estates until they stop.

    And incidentally, lets apply this on the Nationalist side too. Isn’t it ironic too that CIRA now seem intent on killing more Catholic with smuggled tobacco sales than ever died in the Troubles?

    Now I know that a return to law and order would be a terrible shock but perhaps its time to get back to normal society where crime is wrong and criminals should get tried and locked up.

    Now there’s a challenge for Wee Davey to get his teeth into.

    By the way, has anyone seen him about recently?

  • Glencoppagagh

    “they just ran around killing people in a “Yabba Dabba Doo any taig will do fashion.”

    Not entirely true, Turgon. Galbally, Ardboe? But you’d probably say they were just lucky.

  • Ranger1640

    Turgon, could not agree more.

    Unfortunately the politicos signed up to human rights based policing, what ever that is, and policing by consent.

    Policing by it’s very mature cannot be by consent. There can be agreement on issues like that on car crime.

    However when it comes to ridding our streets of the drug, anti social behaviour and paramilitary filth, a non relenting police campaign is required. Politicos need to get the message and spread the world and back a Zero Tolerance approach to policing.

  • chewnicked

    Less ‘got lucky’, more ‘got all of the intelligence information and guns from the police and security services’.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Of course, how silly of me to forget that all their activities were inspired, directed and facilitated by the securocrats.

  • tacapall

    You cannot deny that those connected to the UVF around Rathcoole have the same desire as certain elements within the PSNI that the truth about their activities is not outed.

  • joeCanuck

    There’s a non sequitor if I ever saw one.

  • anne warren

    Bandsmen/women could drop “Loyalist” from the name of th band.
    What’s wrong with the “Wherever Youth Fllute Band”
    or even the “Wherever Flute Band”
    This would remove young people in the bands from the shadow of loyalist paramiitaries and shift the focus to music

  • Nuance

    Turgon, I’m not going to engage with much of your comment, because it’s the usual. You clearly have no scope for redemption when it comes to men like David Ervine; nor do you show any willingness to consider the nuances a path from paramilitary violence implies. Such is your black and white world, and I would not try to dissuade you from that, it’s your prerogative.

    I would point out two small details that the usual vitriol overlooks in this case. One is that you can’t really be entirely unequivocal in your use of electoral results to prove that the working-class Protestant community has rejected the PUP. You’re smart enough to know that politics are far from normal here, and in the tribalised landscape where voting for smaller parties is actively condemned by the DUP as ‘splitting the vote’ and permitting SF to get a bigger grip, you can hardly point to political mandates as clear cut examples of the rejection of the PUP. Unionist politics is far more complex – and far less of a natural gauge of anything – than you would imply. The working class community does reject paramiltary linked parties – but it rejects all small parties, as the TUV has found out. Shades of grey, perhaps.

    The second point is that, while not condoning anything the UVF is up to, I’ve rarely seen a debate about the logic of the HET inquiries. What I mean is this; the GFA was successful in halting violence precisely because it drew a line in the sand, offered prisoner release and sketched out ways forwards, away from the bloody past. A decade on, and the HET is going back to investigate unsolved crimes with a view to arresting and prosecuting those found responsible. Is this consistent with the principles of the GFA? Perhaps it is, but to me it’s dicey ground to say the least.

    This says nothing about the extreme moral ambiguity – permitted of course by the realpolitik of maintaining precarious political structures, of going at loyalist killers while avoiding the big flashing ones in the republican community. I don’t say it’s not necessary, but I can understand why the loyalist community are peeved.

  • joeCanuck


    I agree with much of what you say (though I don’t like the use of the word vitriol). However, the GFA didn’t quite draw a kine in the sand. Due to “constructive ambiguity”, a lot of lines were drawn but gaps were left

  • joeCanuck

    of course, line not kine. Come back preview.

  • I put down your BNP ad hominem towards me as an indication of your lack of knowledge. Keep admiring the scum in the UVF, suits you.

  • Nuance


    Fair cop to call me out on vitriol. That was too harsh. But much of the rhetoric around these issues is couched in very stark black and white terms – the use of the language in particular whenever these sort of discussions come up could entirely be called vitriolic.

    As for constructive ambiguity – well here’s my query with all of this. It seems that if you caught got prior to the GFA, you got released in the early release scheme. If you didn’t, you would be hunted down by HET inquiries a decade later. That seems a very arbitrary way of doing justice and of dealing with the past.

    Or to put it round another way. A close member of your family was killed by someone who was caught before the GFA and then released – and you’ve had to swallow that for the sake of peace. Yet others get to see their killers prosecuted with no sort of caveat in place. It just all seems a bit arbitrary and lacking any coherent sense of strategy.

  • Nuance,
    I entirely accept the concept of redemption. In actual fact the sermon was on it today.

    The point is that those involved in the terrorist actions needed to turn away from their actions and stop committing them. In addition they needed to repudiate their past actions. Hence, they needed to state unequivocally that what they did was utterly wrong and completely unjustified. In that context the likes of Ervine saying he had not forgotten how to make bombs was not a real repudiation. The clear implication was that he could go back to it.

    Furthermore the loyalists apologies would have been laughable had they not been so insulting to the very large numbers of victims they had created and continue to create.

    Personally I feel that if those involved in previous quasi political criminality here do want to turn away truly from their actions; then they should give up on all political activity. They have shown that they cannot take part in politics in a normal fashion.

    Clearly I cannot and should not be able to impose such an opinion. However, it is pretty clear to me that the PUP and its representatives have repeatedly spoken with forked tongues on the issue of UVF terrorist violence and it seems they continue to do so.

  • I think that is entirely reasonable. The only caveat is that plenty of the unionists I know from the likes of South Londonderry or Fermanagh feel that the term loyalist has been hijacked by the murderers of the UVF / UDA and that they should be allowed to consider themselves the true loyalists: not the rag tag band of butchers represented by unrepentant murderers like Hutchinson.

    However, I agree and personally I think the bands would be wiser to drop the term loyalist.

  • Granni Trixie

    You couldn’t make it up. On radio (Nolan?) last week I heard a leader of PUP say,
    “Youse are all trying to give the UVF a bad name”
    Says a lot about the mentality of the speaker and the gap with other people’s reality and is this kind of remark related to perceptions of “demonising loyalism”?

  • Nuance


    I completely agree with you regarding the need to turn away from past violence in order to achieve true redemption. The sort of complete disownment of past actions that you’re after – and most of us are after – is however not such a straightforward thing to achieve, particularly when you feel that you represent a community which do still feel aggrieved and insecure. I’ve been at meetings with a number of working-class representatives who are not aligned with a paramilitary organisation, and the relationship with the paramilitaries is ambivalent, to say the least. I was uncomfortable to see how they are still the first port of call for many when it comes to stopping crime – and when the question was posed about paramilitaries going away, there was a very clear sense of unease.

    On the other hand, you’re absolutely right to condemn the violence those groups do unto their communities. All I want to say here is that there is a strange and dangerous symbiotic relationship in those communities. To entirely disown the past in the sort of way you or I might hope for is likely to unsettle that constituency in the loyalist community who still feel deeply insecure about the threat of renewed republican violence.

    Granni Trixie made the point most succinctly – there is a huge gap between the perceptions of many in those communities and the reality, and that’s particularly worrying. Especially when it comes to the dividends from the peace process; the reality is that republican areas are becoming comparatively more, not less deprived – loyalist communities understand it to be entirely the other way around, fueling their sense of isolation and increasing their desire to disengage. It’s loyalist disengagement that makes them such a ripe target for those clinging to paramilitary structures to whip up and stir trouble against the police.

    These are the sort of undercurrents – and lots more beside I haven’t mentioned – which make blanket condemnation in my opinion somewhat unhelpful.

  • Nuance

    That is to say you can’t just hammer the paramilitaries with heavy-handed policing; because the sheer fact the paramilitaries exist is not just about the extent to which they’ve secured power via intimidation and violence in their own communities.

    There’s an aspect within those communities that supports and nourishes them, and it’s that we need to address. That’s all I’m arguing.

  • joeCanuck

    That may because of despair; not believing that our politicians can do the really necessary things and instead argue about tribal totems and the like.

  • Stephen Blacker


    You are correct in your discription of the Late David Ervine and Billy Hutchinson, as the saying goes, “they wore the t-shirt” and they spent their time in the proceeding years trying to make sure others did not follow their lead. Dawn Purvis did join in 1994, the year of the Loughinisland murders, an event that David Ervine said was probably the worst day of his life.

    Ms. Purvis worked to help stop anymore murders and crime and also was a calming voice when the PIRA broke their ceasefire in 1996 and then was intensely involved in the build-up and signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Murders continued during this time and were condemned but by far the nastiest thing was that the vast majority of these murders were carried out by the security force controlled Mount Vernon UVF??

    The PUP always encouraged a forward momentum by the UVF/RHC over the years leading to the “Statement of intent” in 2007 and then the long awaited decommissioning in 2009. Something that most people were very happy with and seemed to vindicate all the efforts of the PUP. When Bobby Moffet was murdered it left Dawn Purvis with no other option but to leave as she did, very much a matter of principle and a very courageous one at that.

    It is very easy for someone’s perception to become their reality and I was highlighting what some people are thinking. Very few people would say that the HET are pursuing republicians with the same vigor they pursue loyalists.

  • Stephen Blacker,
    No they did not as the saying goes “wore the t-shirt.” They committed foul sectarian crimes. Ervine was convicted of making bombs which were no doubt intended to murder innocent people. Hutchinson murdered two teenagers for the sole reason that they were Catholics. That cannot be reduced to any other comment. Hutchinson deliberately deprived two people, little more than children, of their lives for the sole reason that they were of a particular religion.

    You keep telling us about the positive work of the PUP. The problem is that the only ones who tell us this are the PUP. Then the same PUP, although they supposedly oppose crime, criticise every occasion when the police arrest UVF criminals. The conclusion is pretty inescapable that the PUP are no more than the mouth pieces of the UVF. Periodically they may mumble platitudes about opposing criminality but then they spend most of their time arguing against arrest of the suspects when they are arrested; for more Danegeld for the UVF to go away (except that they never do) and for more time for the UVF and co to continue to exist. They help prolong the reign of terror the UVF visit upon working class unionist communities. Little wonder those communities reject them so comprehensively every time they are given an opportunity.

  • Stephen Blacker


    Sectarian crimes took place wholesale at the time David Ervine was an active UVF man, something he never denied. If it was not for people like this man and his counterparts we could well be still suffering the “Troubles”. People can change and end up being a positive force for the good of society, something that does not seem possible in your world.

    Your 2nd paragraph is depressing to read but I guess it confirms to me that you only listen and believe what you want to believe. Numerous people from most grouping have recognised the role & importance of the David Ervine / Dawn Purvis lead PUP in moving our society closer to normality. It is no surprise you continue to use sound bites and stereotyping to “prove” your point.

  • Stephen Blacker,
    Yes lots of sectarian crimes were committed when Ervine was in the UVF: he definitely committed some of them. I would not be surprised if he committed more crimes than he was convicted for; he certainly had information about them. However, the overwhelming majority of people in those times did not commit sectarian crimes: Ervine did commit sectarian crimes unlike the vast majority of honest decent people.

    If it had not been for Ervine and his counterparts then there would have been no Troubles. The UVF did not defend the unionist community: they preyed vampire like upon it and then also frequently murdered innocent Catholics. Now they merely prey vampire like on their own community and through it all the PUP, whilst supposedly opposing UVF criminality, give cover to these criminals and condemn the police when they try to take action against them.

  • Stephen Blacker


    I wish I lived in your world – everything is so simple!

  • Granni Trixie

    Some people here seem to have a very low opinion of the morals of most people in working class Protestant communities…they even sound like apologists for terrible crimes of a minority. I am sympathetic to Turgeon’s views.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “I entirely accept the concept of redemption. In actual fact the sermon was on it today.
    Personally I feel that if those involved in previous quasi political criminality here do want to turn away truly from their actions; then they should give up on all political activity. They have shown that they cannot take part in politics in a normal fashion.”

    Care to square the circle?

  • Jj

    Lets not forget the dlaiiances which all TUV-type politicos had with Loyalist aramilitaries over the years whether it be Craig leading rallies of masked men in Ormeau Park, Paisley & Robinson donning berets in the Ulster Hall and the paramilitary strikes of 74 and 77 and the (sic) day of Action in 86 against the A-I Agreement.

    Unionist politicians and paramilitaries have an ancient history, Turgon, politicsd alone did not secure partition – Loyalist gun running did. Only when Loyalist paramilitaries secured an articulate voice did Unionist politicians distance themselves, turning their back effectively on 70 plus years of careful collusion.