Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Hiding Behind The Rhetoric

Derry Journal:

Loyalist paramilitary activity has soared in recent months with the UDA/UFF, UVF and LVF linked to a number of sectarian murders and much of the serious violence that has erupted across the North.

In spite of this, however, there has been so much attention focused on the activities - alleged or otherwise - of the IRA that any outside observer could be excused for thinking that republicans are the only people in possession of illegal weapons.

It is in these circumstances that the relentless griping of some unionists, in particular their perpetual criticism of all things republican, is beginning to sound somewhat hollow, not to say sanctimonious.

Granted, some of the unionist grievances are justified - but surely they realise that they would be taken more seriously if they were to also denounce in similarly unequivocal terms the squalid behaviour of those paramilitaries who claim to come from their side of the sectarian fence.

One only has to examine the activities of loyalist paramilitaries in the last few months to fully appreciate that much of the posturing of certain unionist politicians stinks of double standards.

The last few months have witnessed ongoing sectarian attacks on Catholics, their homes, churches and businesses - and all this in addition to the well publicised feud between the UVF and LVF.

And what has been the response from unionist politicians to this ongoing campaign? They have continued to hide behind anti-republican rhetoric despite the recent historic statement from the IRA committing itself to peaceful and democratic methods.

Put simply, unionism has failed to grasp the reality that, at present, the biggest threat to this process comes from within the ranks of violent loyalist paramilitarism.

It is essential that those unionists so brazenly outspoken in their demands for Sinn Fein to be banished to the political wilderness as a result of alleged IRA misdemeanours are less reticent when it comes to condemning ongoing loyalist violence.

Furthermore, those in a position of political responsibility and those with influence in their communities must unite in condemning this abhorrent activity and in seeking a means to put a halt to it before it ends in tragedy.

There is now an urgent need to engender the necessary confidence that effective preventative action will be undertaken.

The communities need to know that they will be fully protected and that the perpetrators of these vile acts will be brought to justice.

The parties to the Good Friday Agreement affirmed both the "right to freedom from sectarian harassment" and the right to "freely choose one's place of residence". It is imperative that these rights be effectively vindicated for everyone in Northern Ireland.

Day by day, the threat posed to life and limb by the pipe bomb is being intensified. The devices are now being used with reckless abandon.

It is only a matter of time before somebody is killed in one of these cowardly attacks. The pipe bomb is a lethal weapon and nothing can justify its use.

Many of the attacks seem to be motivated by pure sectarianism, in that the vast majority of targets have been Catholics.

This cowardly campaign is clearly being orchestrated by somebody, and the finger of blame is being pointed at loyalist paramilitaries.

While they have attempted to wash their hands of involvement, their denials are increasingly unconvincing.

Those behind the attacks must be rejected by all who value democracy.

There should be no hiding place for those who are prepared to plan or carry out such vicious attacks.

Sectarian intimidation has no place in this society, and the sooner those behind these attacks get that message, the better.

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Attack victim refuses to move

Real IRA issues threat

Loyalist march 'in breach' of guidelines

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Distrust behind the schmaltzy obituaries


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