Jude Collins

Friday, 18 January 2013

They haven't gone away, you know

Can you believe it? There was a West Belfast priest on the local TV evening news yesterday, with important information. Groups of aggressive young people waving and wearing Irish tricolours have begun blocking routes into and out of Belfast, and attacking the police when they ventured near. The priest said that the Provisional IRA, the Real IRA and the INLA had all accepted that  these street protests as well as road blockages should stop  The priest said he greeted this news with relief but nothing was finalised yet. There is no truth to the rumour that Chief Constable Matt Baggott has expressed horror at news of the existence of the three paramilitary groups, regardless of their views on Irish tricolour protest groups, and has called on them to disband immediately or face the consequences.

Shocking stuff, eh? But of course you’ve seen through me - I made up all of that stuff in the first paragraph. This next paragraph, though, is the real deal.

An East Belfast clergyman was on the local TV evening news yesterday with important information. Groups of aggressive young people  waving and wearing Union flags have been blocking routes into and out of Belfast. The clergyman said that the UDA,the UVF and the Red Hand Commando had all accepted that these street protests as well as road blockages should stop. The clergyman said he greeted the news with relief but nothing was finalised yet. There is no truth to the rumour that Chief Constable Matt Baggott has expressed horror at news of the existence  of the three paramilitary groups, regardless of their views on Union flag protest groups, and has called on them to disband immediately or face the consequences.

Tell me I’m not hallucinating:  the UDA, the UVF and the Red Hand Commando were supposed to have decommissioned and disbanded years ago, right? So why is a clergyman - or anyone else - talking about them as though they were a local branch of the Rotary Club? And why is Matt Baggott not expressing his horror at their existence? Answers, please. Because right now I feel as if somebody has begun - that’s right - chipping away at my sanity. 


  1. Jude there's a rumour doing the rounds at the minute that loyalists/unionists don't know if Christmas has come late for last year or just early for next year!!

  2. As pointed out, UDA/UVF/RHC still exist, organizing & recruiting. No sign of disappearing off the stage (as PIRA has done – they had a tangible project to occupy their members & integrate them into the political system).

    The same groups are, as is well documented historically & more recently; infiltrated & probably controlled to some degree by British Intelligence.

    The Intelligence agencies know what murky secrets exist between themselves & loyalist paramilitaries. It is very much to their benefit to get the groups wound down, off the streets & out of sight. The longer they continue to operate, the more pressure the forces of law&order will come under to treat them as common criminals & take them to task properly.

    Along with the impending Super Grass trial - you have A LOT of potentially disgruntled paramilitaries, some of who may have been immune from the rule of law until now & may decide to sling whatever murky muck they know of, in the interests of deflection & self preservation.

    What to do then? These guys have a substantial support base, a genuine & understandable beef with mainstream unionism & a serious envy of Republican ex-combatants. Many of whom they see in Stormont or generally wearing suits & having mainstream credibility - while they are described as thugs & drug dealers instead of politicians & statesmen.

    They don’t understand that SF permeates all social classes, have a thoughtful strategic vision, many highly educated members at all levels & have worked tirelessly at grass roots level to get to this point. These guys want suits & salaries & credibility, because in their minds they are the mirror image of the Republican Movement & DESERVE their “Peace Dividend."

    What are the spooks to do then to help with this “dividend”? Get their foot onto the political ladder at a much more accelerated rate than they thus far merit. To do this one would need an issue, one which could be manipulated & hyped up to gain widespread engagement from working class Protestants. Ensure the issue is one which extols the virtues of voting & organising politically - yet can flag the lack of representation for working class loyalists, creating space to move into.

    Carefully select a small number of individuals to front such a campaign of agitation, who can publicly steer seemingly spontaneous new groupings. This will afford the said individuals a fast tracked avenue to publicity & an overnight public profile. With the newly awakened & engaged energies of loyalism beginning to understand the virtues of political education and working the political system from the inside; use the said individuals to front political efforts into the future & hey presto!

    Wind down the paramilitary apparatus, to appease security service handlers, eventually disown any elements maintaining their criminal enterprises - as cover for this activity unchecked by police is unsustainable long term.

    I could make specific references to individuals, I won't. However, a certain educated, well spoken person joining a certain party "sooner rather than later" before a prime publicity opportunity may back my assertions...

    Problem is though - you lose partial control of the monster you knowingly created/ unleashed - a ragtag of nutcases seizing control of the "people’s revolution" or if you cannot maintain cohesion with said groups on their journey to constitutional politics/extinction...

    If enough progress is made, a certain trial may fall apart & people can keep their secrets to themselves & no organised crime boss's need be arrested etc & the imperfect peace process can trundle on & the British Security Services can sleep well at night & continue doing their thing...

    Or not! I can't think properly with this damned tinfoil hat on!

    1. Abolutley...spot on!!

    2. Collapse of Martin O'Hagan accused trial recently doesn't necessarily rubbish some of the points made above...

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