Category Archives: UVF

my kind of town

I just recently arrived in Chicago after spending a relatively unpleasant few hours sitting adjacent to the (obviously not often cleaned) bathroom on the Megabus from Ann Arbor. Never thought I’d be so happy to breathe city air!

After a long search for a place that offers both free wireless and an outlet to plug in my computer (the security guard had to “regulate” after I plugged in at the Cultural Center), I quite happily ended up at a place called Argo Tea. Not only do they have a number of outlets for me, but they apparently have a commitment to conservation and sustainability and support a number of local community organizations (granted I know nothing of this place, so if they are evil or are owned by the devil please excuse me). The best part, however, has to be the brewing room–which is visible to the customers through a giant picture window a la Arbor Brewing Company –so that everyone can watch the brewers blend and brew their own teas. Matt and Rene would be proud.

In any case, I am in Chicago this weekend to visit some friends and to see Alan Brecknell of the Pat Finucane Centre’s Newry office tomorrow night at the Irish Heritage Center. Alan’s father was killed in a UVF/RUC/UDR attack on Donnelly’s Bar, Silverbridge in 1975. Alan has researched state collusion in mid-Ulster and the border counties for seven years now with a particular focus on the Glenanne Gang. Late last year an International Panel led by Professor Douglass Cassel of Notre Dame University published a comprehensive report on these cases. Alan was the local expert working with the panel over two years.

He has met with former loyalists including RUC officers who were members of the gang and has given evidence to parliamentary committees on both sides of the border. He is currently studying for a Masters in Human Rights Law in addition to running the Newry office of the Pat Finucane Centre.

Alan will be speaking about the nature and extent of State collusion, the Panel report and the differing approaches to truth recovery. For example, what is the role of the Police Ombudsman and the Historical Enquiry Team? What are the needs of victims’ families in a post conflict situation and what role could a truth commission play?

Those of you in or near Chicago should come out for the event tomorrow night, Saturday July 28, 8pm at the Irish Heritage Center at 4626 North Knox.

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Filed under Arbor Brewing Company, collusion, human rights, ireland, Irish peace process, pat finucane, Pat Finucane Centre, policing, RUC, UDR, UVF

orange disorder

orangiesiraq1.jpgorangiesiraq21.jpgLast Thursday was the twelfth of July (or The Twelfth if you are so inclined), the day that the Protestant Orange Order commemorates the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, in which (the Protestant) William of Orange defeated (the Catholic) King James II. It continues to be celebrated as the defeat of Catholic interests by Protestant ones. The pictures here are of British troops/members of the Orange Order in Basra holding one such commemoration (photos from From the Balcony).

Recently, the Orange Order has been trying to reinvent itself as a cultural association (see their recent participation in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as an example of this), and no doubt the £100,000 grant from the British government last year to be more inclusive is being spent to this end:

The authorities, who have just put up £100,000 so the Order can appoint a development officer. His job will be “to promote ‘Orangefest’ as a fully inclusive, family friendly event, improve community relations, promote Belfast in a positive light, and encourage visitors to watch the parade”.

The government explained: “It is disappointing that during the marching season the city centre and some of the main arterial routes either close down or are abandoned by those who do not feel comfortable with the parades. The time is right to see whether the Orange Order can achieve a broader understanding and acceptance of Orange culture and tradition across the community.”

Keep in mind that as late as 2005, the Orange Order was marching through Ardoyne in north Belfast with some marchers dressed as Catholic schoolgirls in an effort to mock the events that occurred a few years prior, in which loyalists blocked school children from attending the Holy Cross Primary School, verbally assaulting them along the way (and in some cases throwing rocks, bags of urine and blast bombs).

Things may be changing quickly in the north of Ireland since the restoration of the institutions, but these recent attempts at whitewashing the Order’s past are just not going to fly. Here are some more recent accounts of this year’s Twelfth celebrations…

bbc1.jpgThis picture here is an example of the size of a typical loyalist bonfire. Think about what this would look like when lit, with crowds of people drunk and partying at its base. Now, read this:

A Catholic family have been left devastated by a cruel taunt by loyalists who daubed the name of their dead son on carpet and placed it on the top of a bonfire just hours before it was to be set alight.

Peter Neill said he felt physically sick when he saw the name of his 16-year-old son Aaron written in five feet high letters on carpet attached to the Harper’s Hill bonfire in Coleraine.

The father, who is in mourning after losing his son just two weeks ago, had to remove the carpet himself after he said police refused to do so.
Aaron died in his sleep from a suspected heart attack.

Mr Neill said he is now living under a death threat after police later informed him that loyalists saw him remove the item from the bonfire.

He said that up to five police Land Rovers had to be sent to his house in The Heights estate in Coleraine after dozens of loyalists were reported to be preparing to attack his home.

The father-of-three said his wife Philomena has been so disturbed by the incident he fears she will end up in hospital.

Their other children, aged 21, 12 and nine, have had to be placed in hiding.

Mr. Neill was put under death threat by loyalists for removing his recently deceased son’s name from a bonfire. This, apparently was not the work of young kids fooling around, but grown men involved with the UDA and UVF. This is not an isolated incident either–Michael McIlveen’s name was also placed atop a bonfire last year (Michael was 15 when he was beaten to death in May 2006 by a gang in Ballymena for being Catholic); names and posters of Sinn Féin and SDLP politicians are commonly placed on these bonfires as well.

For a last glimpse into the world of the Twelfth celebrations, I’ll leave you with this recent article in the Sunday Business Post by Colm Heatley:

Orange disorder

Davy was looking forward to the Twelfth celebrations on the Shankill last week, especially the eleventh night bonfire. Davy is not an Orangeman, but ‘‘I suppose I’d be a loyalist supporter,” he said.

It wasn’t politics that had him excited last week, however – it was the opportunity to make some easy money.

‘‘This is one of the biggest nights of the year for me. In fact, after New Year’s Eve, it’s probably the biggest. I’ll be busy all night; it’ll pay for me and the missus to go to Ayia Napa in August,” he said.

Davy sells drugs, mainly ecstasy and speed, and he had a ready market among the hundreds of young – and not so young – who gathered at the huge bonfire on the Shankill Road. He didn’t have to worry about the police. They keep their distance. And the paramilitaries wouldn’t interfere either; they ‘‘tax’’ him on what he sells.

For many Protestants in the North, especially in working class areas, that is how the Twelfth celebrations begin. The biggest cheer of the night is normally reserved for the UVF and UDA, groups involved in wholesale drug dealing and crime.

When the huge fires are lit often burning tyres and other toxic materials – tricolours are burned. Slogans such as KAT (Kill All Taigs) are often daubed on the tricolours. In 2005, one bonfire trumpeted the suicides of several young men in the nationalist Ardoyne estate.

This year, GAA shirts were put on top of the bonfires too. Chris McGimpsey, a Shankill Road Ulster Unionist councillor who is regarded as a moderate, said last week that the GAA should look at why Protestants see it as sectarian.

With the power-sharing deal in place in the North, many people are now asking what the future of the Twelfth should be, and are looking to the 50,000-strong Orange Order to take the lead. The question is whether an inherently sectarian and triumphalist celebration which for decades has been the most vivid display of unionist dominance over Catholics – can be re-moulded in a post-Troubles, power-sharing North?

In simple financial terms, the Twelfth has been a disaster for the North since the mid1990s. Disputes around the marching season almost singlehandedly crippled the region’s tourist industry, which was expected to take off after the ceasefires.

Instead, the fortnight around July 12 became the time of the year when local hoteliers took their holidays. Much of the heat has now gone out of the marching season, and the mass protests appear to be a thing of the past, but shops, bars and restaurants still close on the Twelfth.

The Orange Order is trying to promote the Twelfth as Orange Fest, a tourist attraction for the North.

But it is questionable whether this can ever succeed, especially when no alternative ways of celebrating the occasion have emerged, aside from a firework display.

More fundamentally, the Twelfth marches have a deep sectarian symbolism and, unless Orangeism’s relationship with the state changes, the parades will always have the potential for violence and menace.

David Scott, the education officer of the Orange Order, is responsible for finding ways to promote the ‘new face’ of the organisation.

‘‘There is a lot of good work going on with the Orange Order and the community which people don’t see,” he said. ‘‘We are going out to schools and interacting with young people. We have the Williamite display on, which is attracting a lot of interest from tourists.”

However, Scott’s definition of ‘the community’ does not include Catholics, and he said the ban on Catholics joining the Orange Order would not be removed. The group has about 50,000 members, the vast majority of whom are male.

While the Orange Order enjoyed a surge in applications for membership during the stand-offs over marches at Drumcree, anecdotal evidence suggests that its membership has slipped in recent times. The group last week found itself criticised over the practice of building up huge, environmentallyunfriendly bonfires in urban areas.

Thousands of car tyres were burned last week, along with other hazardous materials, leading to calls – even from some unionists – to stop the practice.

In a pointer to how things may go in the future, the village of Stoneyford, a few miles outside Belfast, had a beacon instead of a bonfire.

The key mover in that plan was, somewhat surprisingly, Mark Harbinson, an ‘ultraloyalist’ who in recent years, led loyalist bands around a newly-built, mixed-religion housing development in the village.

‘‘I’ve been pushing this for two years,” he said. ‘‘There has been opposition to it, but people have started to see the benefits of having a type of bonfire which is clean and doesn’t leave the town with a big mess to clean up after. It also makes it more accessible for families.”

That theme of families was picked up on by Dawson Bailie, the leader of the Orange Order in Belfast.

‘‘We want to get back to what the Twelfth was before the Troubles, when families would come along and Catholics would as well,” he said.

Ironically, if unionists do want to change the Twelfth, they may find themselves following the example of republicans who, almost 20 years ago, ended the practice of burning bonfires to commemorate the introduction of internment on August 9.

Throughout most of the 1970s and 1980s, republican bonfires became flashpoints for rioting, and Catholic communities were left with dirt and rubble from the fires.

In 1988, the west Belfast festival, Feile an Phobail, was introduced as a replacement.

Since then, it, and other such festivals in republican areas, have established themselves as part of the summer calendar in the North.

The festivals feature music, debates between unionists and nationalists, workshops on politics and literature, and debates about global events and Irish history.

A few years ago at the festival, Jeffrey Donaldson, the arch-unionist sceptic, talked directly to Seanna Walsh, the IRA man who announced the formal ending of the group’s campaign in 2005.

Guest speakers in the past have included the US documentary film-maker Michael Moore. Whether unionism and the Orange Order in particular – can envisage the Twelfth broadening out in such a fashion remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Davy reckons he has made about stg£700 for his night’s work, and the people of the Shankill are left with the charred remains of the bonfires.

Altogether, the night cost the taxpayers in the North stg£1 million in clean-up, medical, and police bills.

The socially-deprived communities of the area celebrate their ‘dominance’ over Catholics by spending the Twelfth marching onward with their leaders in the Orange Order.

Those leaders seem to be more comfortable dealing with the past than the realities of life in the North today.

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Statement from the families of those murdered at Donnelly’s Bar, Silverbridge, outside Kay’s Tavern, Dundalk and in the Reavey and O’Dowd homes

Note: Alan Brecknell will be in the states for a speaking tour to discuss collusion (etc) in late July/early August and will be making stops in Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New York and Boston.

From the Pat Finucane Centre:

For further information contact Alan Brecknell at the Newry PFC office: 02830 251491 mobile 00353 861739722-Alan’s father Trevor was killed in the gun and bomb attack on Donnelly’s Bar.

Our loved ones died in a series of co-ordinated attacks between 19 December 1975 and January 4 1976. We are shocked and angered at comments contained in the British Ministry of Defence document titled Operation Banner-An Analysis of Military Operations in Northern Ireland.

This document was written under the direction of the Chief of the General Staff of the British Army and purports to provide an analysis of British army operations here.

At paragraph 234 the following claim is made;

Sectarian killing had become common, but a particularly vicious feud erupted in County Armagh between South Armagh PIRA and North Armagh UVF. The two organisations probably numbered less than 30 terrorists each. Between 19 December 1975 and 12 January 1976 over 40 people were killed and 100 wounded. The main effect of this feud was to raise tension and the perception of the political need to be doing something. The last vestiges of the Sunningdale Agreement died quietly and the bulk of the population tacitly accepted Direct Rule from Whitehall, which lasted until the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

We demand the immediate retraction of these comments which represent nothing less than a rewriting of history by an organisation whose members in fact instigated and participated in the incidents referred to. To refer to the murders which occurred during those weeks as resulting from a “particularly vicious feud … in County Armagh between South Armagh PIRA and North Armagh UVF” is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

It is vital to set the historical record straight. We have decided to reveal details about this period that we had hitherto withheld and which we believe explain the shock and anger that we feel as relatives.

On December 19 1975 a car bomb exploded outside Kay’s Tavern in Dundalk, Co Louth. Two people died and dozens were injured. On the same evening gunmen opened fire both outside and then inside Donnelly’s Bar, Silverbridge Co Armagh. A bomb was thrown into the bar. Three people died and again dozens were injured.

On January 4 1976 gunmen entered the home of the Reavey family in Whitecross, S. Armagh. Two brothers were shot dead while a third was seriously injured. He died later that month. The gunmen searched every room in the house looking for further victims. Less than thirty minutes later a second group of gunmen burst into the O’Dowd household, some 20 miles away, and entered the sitting room where a large group of family members were gathered listening to one brother who was playing the piano. The gunmen opened fire and three members of the O’Dowd family were killed and a number were injured. These four attacks over a 16 day period left 11 people dead and were all attributed to loyalist paramilitaries.

On January 5 a bus was stopped by gunmen near Whitecross Co Armagh and the sole Catholic passenger was told to leave the scene. The gunmen then opened fire on the remaining eleven passengers, all of whom were protestant workmen from Bessbrook. Ten died and one survived. This attack, the Kingsmill massacre, was attributed to republicans.

In all 21 innocent people were murdered between December 19 1975 and January 5 1976 in this series of linked incidents. The attacks in Silverbridge, in Dundalk and on the Reavey and O’Dowd households have been the subject of  judicial inquiries by Justice Barron resulting in Dail scrutiny; a current focused investigation (in the case of the northern incidents) by the Historical Enquiries Team; and ongoing litigation in the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg. These attacks were carried out and co-ordinated by a gang based at Glenanne in S. Armagh. We have met with members of the Glenanne gang including former RUC officers and with RUC officers who investigated the group. The above allows us to comment on this period with a degree of accuracy and certainty that was denied us in the immediate aftermath of these murders.

We totally reject the British Army description of these events as a “feud” between S. Armagh PIRA and N.Armagh UVF for the following reasons;

This gang was made up of members of the British Army, the RUC and loyalist paramilitaries run by Military Intelligence and/or RUC Special Branch. The ballistic histories of the weapons used in these incidents allows us to state with absolute certainty that these incidents were linked to other alleged ‘loyalist’ attacks carried out both before and after this period  including the Miami Showband massacre and the RUC SPG gun and bomb attack on the Rock Bar, Keady. The main instigators of these attacks were serving RUC officers and UDR members. A number of the attacks were carried out while the individuals were ‘on duty’ and/or were using official RUC and UDR uniforms and RUC vehicles. Access to police and army radios facilitated escape while some of the murders carried out by this gang were on occasion ‘investigated’ by RUC officers linked to the very same gang. State agents such as Robin Jackson, aka The Jackal, carried out a number of the attacks including the murders at the O’Dowd home. A number of people in positions of authority within the criminal justice, intelligence and policing institutions were aware that Jackson and other state agents were involved in murders in collusion with members of the RUC and British Army.

We no longer regard these incidents as ‘loyalist’ attacks but rather as part of a security force inspired ‘dirty war’ aimed at terrorising the Catholic/Nationalist community into isolating the IRA. At least 120 deaths can be attributed to the Glenanne Gang including the Dublin and Monaghan bombings yet their activities were allowed to continue for several years. Given the extent to which the security forces were aware of these activities, the degree to which members of the security forces were themselves central to these activities and the appalling response of the criminal justice system we are left in no doubt that these activities were officially tolerated. Equally we believe that there were individual RUC officers, not connected to Special Branch, who tried to uphold the law but were blocked from carrying out investigations.

There was no feud between the S Armagh PIRA and N Armagh UVF. These were not tit-for-tat sectarian killings. Indeed we are convinced that those who planned and instigated the attacks on December 19 and on January 4 intended to provoke a bloody and ever escalating response – the Kingsmill Massacre by republicans. In the climate of crisis which followed the Dec 19 – Jan 5 killings a series of security measures were announced which would have been politically unacceptable just weeks beforehand. The British army Spearhead battalion was transferred to the border area and it was announced that the SAS would be deployed to S. Armagh, the first official confirmation that the SAS was to be deployed on Irish soil. The then PM Harold Wilson declared all of Armagh a Special Emergency Area and the file of the same name remains closed at the National Archive in London. In the Republic the Cosgrave Government reacted to the crisis by promising extensive security cooperation with their Northern counterparts.

Our suspicions that there was a hidden hand behind these terrible events, that they were orchestrated and that the loss of innocent life in both communities was intended, have been reinforced by allegations made since by members of the Glenanne gang. In 2001 we met with a former member. Asked why no retaliation was undertaken following the Kingsmills massacre he replied that  retaliation was planned but the plan was abandoned. According to this person the proposal was to attack the primary school in Belleek, Co Armagh and kill thirty odd children and their teacher. The plan was allegedly aborted because the UVF leadership believed that this response would lead to a civil war and was morally unacceptable. In addition the UVF leadership in Belfast suspected that the Glenanne gang member who suggested the attack, a UDR member who is dead, was working closely with military intelligence and that military intelligence was behind the plan and was seeking to  provoke a civil war. We did not divulge these allegations at the time. On 25.5.2004 BBC Spotlight broadcast a programme on the Glenanne gang. Former RUC SPG officer and Glenanne gang member William Mc Caughey was interviewed. Mc Caughey was questioned about the proposed retaliation for Kingsmill. He admitted on air that the plan was to attack the primary school in Belleek or the convent in Newry. According to Mc Caughey the plan was aborted because of the fear of the potential IRA response. This was corroboration from a second member of the gang.

We are prepared to accept that this plan may have been regarded as morally unacceptable by the UVF. However the claim that the plan was instigated by military intelligence and was therefore part of a wider agenda has never been investigated. At a meeting with the PSNI Chief Constable and an Assistant Chief Constable in 18.8.2004 the Chief Constable was asked if Mc Caughey, a former RUC officer, had been questioned about these admissions. The ACC admitted that Mc Caughey had not been questioned.

It is an irrefutable fact that members of the security forces, including the British army, were involved in the attacks in which our loved ones died. It is alleged that military intelligence played a role in these attacks and sought to provoke an escalation that would have had unthinkable consequences. We acknowledge that the UVF did not follow through on this plan. The failure of the PSNI to interview Mc Caughey, who is now deceased, has added to our suspicions. This is the reason we are so angry and shocked at the claims made in this document of an alleged ‘feud’. We are demanding the retraction of these claims and a proper investigation of the Glenanne gang.

The families of Jack Rooney, Hugh Watters, Michael Donnelly, Patsy Donnelly, Trevor Brecknell, John Martin, Brian and Anthony Reavey, Barry, Joe and Declan O’Dowd.

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Filed under British army, collusion, ireland, Irish peace process, Pat Finucane Centre, UVF

Does this happen to you too?

I’m only recently back from a 3 week trip to Belfast, and as is often the case when one returns from a vacation (of sorts), I’ve been asked by friends, family, acquaintances, and workmates what I did while I was away.  So I discuss–or attempt to discuss, as the case may be–exactly what I did.  And about 9.999 times out of 10, the person I am talking to stares off into the distance, their eyes glaze over, and they blink repeatedly.  And say nothing.  No questions, no polite, “oh wow that’s really interesting”–usually no reaction at all.  It’s usually something circumstantial that breaks us out of that temporary standstill, like if I’m at work one of us has to leave suddenly to do something, or if I’m at a restaurant the server comes over and fills up the water and then suddenly there’s the exit we’ve both been waiting for.  “Is it supposed to rain today?”

I know it’s not me.  I’m certainly not a confrontational person, nor am I inclined to boast about much of anything.  This sort of thing has happened before though.  When I first got to graduate school, I can’t tell you how many parties, events, or classroom settings in which I found myself discussing what I had been doing before I came to school.  I’m in an environmental program, so most if not all of my fellow students had worked in the field or a related one prior to coming to UM.  I did what I’ve pretty much always done; I had a job that would pay my bills and then I used my “free time” to do important political work.

Before grad school I was a volunteer caseworker at Centurion Ministries in Princeton, New Jersey. CM is an independent investigative agency that works to get innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of rape and murder out of prison.  It remains the most meaningful, powerful, and inspiring work I’ve ever done.  The most incredible stories of the most amazing, strong, determined, thankful people you’ll ever meet.   I could go on…

So this was the story I would tell when it was my turn to share where I had been before Michigan.  The response?  The same far-off stares, the same glazed over eyes and the same flutter of the eyelids.  (Are there wheels turning in there…or does the brain work overtime so that you do not process my words?!)  I remember only one person in my program who ever engaged me in a conversation about this.

And so I came to the conclusion that the idea of people being wrongfully convicted of heinous crimes and left to rot in prison was something that was just so far out of the frame of (white, middle class) reference of these people that they literally had no idea how to respond.  Or that their minds were working so hard to NOT process what I had said (please don’t mess with my rosy pink worldview), to not have to think about how folks live outside the bubble that their gears just momentarily stopped shifting (hence the glazed over, fluttering eyes) until the subject changed and they were safe.

Come on, people–do you really need to know someone personally who is in jail to acknowledge that this is a serious issue?  Perhaps even a bit more pressing than paper vs. plastic?  So much for your understanding of NIMBY-ism (that’s Not In My Back Yard–and guess what people, it applies to more than dumping).  But I digress.

So when I get back from a place like Belfast and you ask me what I did and I begin to tell you and I see your eyes begin to glaze over, I’ll probably assume you just want to hear about all the Guinness I drank, or about how fucked up I got, or if I went to any shows or sweet parties.  Since I don’t expect you to be fully informed (or even well-informed–or informed!) about the conflict or the peace process (and your eyes tell me you’re not interested in politics), I’ll probably just tell you about the time I went to Dundalk for the night with a bunch of really great ladies to go to the dog races (of all things!), how we started drinking on the bus on the way down, went to the disco (my boobs popped out of my dress, several times, and Linda ended up on the floor trying to recreate a scene during that song from Dirty Dancing).

But boy will you be missing out, because I won’t tell you about the experiences I had that really touched me.  I won’t tell you about the afternoon in the park, eating ice cream cones with my friend, who is struggling for justice for his murdered son, a victim of collusion; about how he reminisced about his childhood, talked about his kids and grandchildren, how we literally stopped to smell the roses.  About how his story is unfortunately one of many.  This is a place where people are carrying so much pain, but at the same time it’s also a place that bubbles over with humor, hospitality, and humanity.   It’s too near, too close to me, and  I’m tired of sharing with people who choose to numb their minds to reality (and it is a choice).  So I won’t tell you about the community organizations that I worked with, and will continue to work with.  I won’t tell you about the amazing, inspiring people I met, how the potential I see fills me with hope.  You won’t even come close to understanding why I might be so drawn to this community, with its painful past so close to the surface as it struggles to make the small portion of the earth that it occupies a better, safer, inclusive and sustainable place.

A word of advice: don’t ask if you really don’t want to know.  Or at least be polite and say something if I tell you and you decide you don’t really want to know.  But from where I stand, you’re missing out.

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Filed under belfast, Centurion Ministries, collusion, environmental justice, ireland, Irish peace process, political prisoners, relatives for justice, UVF, war

The UVF “calls it quits”

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:

Third cheer when the butcher knives are handed over

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.

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Filed under collusion, Irish peace process, UVF