The Ulster Volunteer Force and the Red Hand Commando (two loyalist paramilitary groups in the north of Ireland) today issued a statement declaring an end to its armed campaign of terror. Because I cannot say it better myself, here is a repost from Máirtín Ó Muilleoir’s blog:
It was the perfect script for putting a full stop (or should that be a semi-colon?) after the UVF’s glorious armed campaign.
Gusty Spence, the UVF commandant (pictured) who launched their ‘war’ in 1966 by shooting 18-year-old Catholic barman Peter Ward in the head and declaring it a blow for King Billy, took the podium today to deliver the paramilitary group’s swan song. Thus, what started in ignomy and falsehood finished in the same fashion.
For the notion that the UVF was ever anything more than a pseudo-gang of toy soldiers nourished and directed by the British is confirmed in both the coming and, hopefully, the going of that bunch of wannabe warriors.
Once MI5 declared it surplus to requirements, the UVF became nothing more than a parasite on its host community. What else was to be expected from ‘volunteers’ whose most famous ‘brigade’ was baptised the Shankill Butchers for its cut-throating feats of derring-do?
Having segued from murdering Catholics to extorting unionist businessman, dealing drugs to loyalist youngsters and dispensing paramilitary ‘justice’with crowbars, the UVF could last only so long as its host community’s patience held. And with even the most ardent loyalist growing a little disullusioned about having to pay a weekly stipend for ‘the loyalist prisoners’ 13 years after the declaration of the UVF ceasefire and seven years after its last ‘soldier’ was released, patience is in short supply in unionist communities.
In recent times, even unionist political representatives who focus almost exclusively on republicans had had it with the UVF. DUP MP Gregory Campbell denounced the loyalist paramilitaries as “the greatest threat” to the unionist community.
So two cheers for the UVF for ending its war on the unionist community. We’ll make it three when they hand over the butcher knives to General de Chastelain.