In the 12 months since the democratic decision to limit the flying of the Union Flag to designated days, much has happened on the streets and it has been well publicised. However, underneath the ocean of 'civil rights' and 'respect our culture' bullshit, runs an entirely more sinister current. One which is being whipped up by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).
On the 3rd May 2007 the UVF made a statement saying that they had become a 'non-military, civilianised' organisation. Although they had officially been on a ceasefire since 1994, this date can be interpreted as the date when all criminal activity should have concluded. Following two years of discussions about the decommissioning of weapons the UVF put a substantial amount of its guns and explosives beyond use in June 2009. All good?
|The 'peace' never materialised|
Well, no. Not even a year had passed when Bobby Moffett, a member of the Red Hand Commando, was shot dead on the Shankill Road (30th May 2010) in broad daylight for everyone in the area to see. It is believed the UVF carried out the killing. Which would beg the question, what ceasefire? Fast forward to the 20th June 2011 and a riot involving 500 people took place in the Short Strand. The PSNI laid the blame firmly at the door of the UVF who orchestrated a night of violence which saw homes attacked and where UVF guns had been used to try to kill police officers. So, it appears the UVF have form when it comes to organising full scale riots and attempting to kill police officers.
On the 7th January 2013, Chief Constable of the PSNI, Matt Baggott said that
To this date (18th November 2013) Matt Baggott insists the the UVF ceasefire remains intact but in the last week we have seen two gun attacks one of a 21 year old man in Portrush and one of a 15 year old boy in Coleraine, the two were shot in both legs. These two attacks have been blamed on loyalists paramilitaries, widely believed to be the UVF. Today, however the Police Federation of Northern Ireland (the organisation which represents PSNI officers) released a statement saying that the UVF is no longer on ceasefire after these recent attacks. Did Matt Baggott not get the memo?
Meanwhile at Twaddell Avenue on the 16th November 2013, during a peaceful protest by the Orange Order, local DUP MP Nigel Dodds could be seen sharing the stage with an alleged commander within the UVF. You may be forgiven for thinking this was an honest mistake given the high possibility for a cretin of this nature to be at such an event. However, it is not the first time this has happened and Nigel Dodds MP has not been the only senior politician to share the stage with this alleged UVF commander for Nelson McCausland MLA has also done the same thing.
|Alleged UVF Commander|
One must question what the PSNI's definition of a "ceasefire" is. Perhaps those who determine such things are content that as long as the UVF are no longer doing "spray jobs" on Catholic pubs, then all is well. But all is not well. The UVF appear to be violently tightening their grip on organised crime, while the attacks on Short Strand show that old habits die hard. When a police force continues to stretch the definition of ceasefire, and when senior MLAs and, even more shockingly, MPs can share a stage with an alleged UVF commander, it suggests deep problems in our country's leadership. Not only do such instances happen but they also pass by as if it is the norm.
|Yes it happened... More than once|
Why are the PSNI not willing to say the UVF are no longer on a ceasefire? Is it the easy option? Would it be too much hard work to revoke the Good Friday Agreement licenses of UVF members? Are they worried about another violent reaction from the "PUL" community?
Why do our politicians seem intent on putting themselves in situations where it divides and alienates people? Is it simply about votes? Are the DUP so desperate now for votes that they're willing to court the extreme right wing, just to cling on to power for a few more years?