PARAMILITARY PEACE PROMISE ALL HOT AIR
THE absurdity of Monday’s announcement that loyalist paramilitaries are now fully supportive of the rule of law will not be lost on those who know the nature of the beasts.
Simply being a member of the UDA, Red Hand Commando or UVF is enough to put you behind bars for up to 10 years – not that anyone in authority seems to care. If we are to take ageing terror chiefs Jackie McDonald and Jim Wilson at face value you can expect to see the membership of these organisations dramtically decrease, because, according to Jackie, those involved in criminality are “masquerading as loyalists” and will be expelled. He’s said it before, yet the organisation he heads continues to be deeply involved in the drugs trade, extortion – of which Jackie is a bit of an expert – punishment attacks and putting people out of their homes.
There was an air of desperation about Monday’s announcement. The flow of cash from the public purse has continued, against the better judgement of many people who are rightly concerned at the over-indulgence of illegal organisations who have been too slow to move with the times. But there is now a real threat to the liberty of many of the men under McDonald’s command.
The paramilitary Crime Task Force has been slowly turning the screw, targeting the UDA’s criminal endeavours on the Shankill and more recently in North Down. Arrests are being made and charges pressed.
Stringent conditions governing the release of grants threaten to slow the cash flow, and we all know there’s nothing like putting liberty at stake and cutting the cash to focus the mind of a loyalist paramilitary. It would be wonderful to think there is a genuine desire to move away from criminality and there is no question there are many, many veteran paramilitaries who have turned their backs on their organisation, appalled at their involvement in drugs.
Equally there are many paramilitary leaders who continue to grow fat on the proceeds of organised crime – don’t expect that to change. Monday wasn’t a red letter day. No one doubts the sincerity of the church leaders and community activists who helped ‘broker’ this week’s announcement, but away from the hallowed walls of the Linen Hall Library it was business as usual.
A death threat issued against a journalist, a man lucky to be alive when shots were fired as he walked the streets of north Belfast, a show of strength in Bangor and a hoax pipe bomb thrown through a window of a family home in Ballymoney. It will take more than the pious words of Jackie McDonald and Jim Wilson to convince anyone that after all these years they are finally going stright.
With many thanks to the: Sunday World and Richard Sullivan for the origional story.l