Don’t be fooled it’s business as usual on our streets.

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.

CONCERNED

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

FIND IT IN YOUR HEART TO HELP A POOR PROD

TODAY we launch an appeal for much-needed funds for loyalist paramilitaries and Loyalist Communities Council (LCC).

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After giving up their criminal campaign, 20 years after they last promised to give up their criminal campaign, the Re-home a Red Hand and Adopt a UDA Man (RRHAUDAM) appeals urgently need your help. For just £50,000 a year could give idle buggers like Sammy from the Shankill a community worker’s job.
It would help to pay for the three holidays a year and the top-of-the-range car which he and his family so badly need. In return, he’ll promise to enrich the culture of his community and lay off doing anyones’ knees. Obviously he’d still be good for a bit of blow (weed) but keep it to yourself. But the suddenly contrite paramilitaries aren’t looking for charity. They will be bringing important job skills to any cushy number they’re offered. They have maths skills from years of working out if Jonty has a kilo of weed how many half ounces can he knock out if he expects a 50 per cent mark up.

Or if a local businessman refuses to pay his £80-a-week protection money how many bricks will it take to do his windows. They have invaluable people skills, honed over decades of dealing with the local community – the bookies, the bar men, the travel agents, the car dealers, the wee girls in the off-licence. And all they want is the chance to give back to their community by getting the jobs few of them have ever bothered getting before. They long to experience life on minimum wage and a zero hours contract because who needs qualifications when you have an overwhelming sense of entitlement. Our appeal so far has raised £1 million from the Tony Blair’s an Angel Who’s Still Fixing the World Foundation.

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VITALLY

It’s a tiny amount compared to the £26 million which was raised by the PIRA in their Northern Bank fundraiser but it was either that or cupcake sales for the next millennium. It’s vitally important that the paramilitaries are shown our love because otherwise they might just keep doing what they’ve always done for the last 20 years. There will be some strays from the path of peace, like Tyrone, South East Antrim, East Belfast and the UPRG who aren’t ready to leave the old ways behind. They will be humanely arrested for blatantly breaking the law, even though they’ve miraculously got away with a life of crime up to now. So please give what you can – support your local loyalist so he doesn’t have to.
With many thanks to: Roisin Gorman. http://roisin.gorman@sundayworld.com. Sunday World.