Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Time for an end to loyalist threats

Daily Ireland:

Quite what ‘operations’ the LVF ceased last midnight is not entirely clear, because it’s evident to observers of loyalist paramilitaries that the terror group was in business not to save Ulster or to protect Protestants, but to make money from drugs and extortion and to target anyone who stood in the way of their dirty business.

That said, an announcement by any of the armed groups in Ireland that it is to stand down is to be welcomed, but given that the LVF, uniquely among paramilitary groups here, was exclusively dedicated to criminality and gangsterism, it’s hard to see how the order to stand down can be made to work. Will those shaven-headed, bling-loving louts who peddle drugs to young people give up their lucrative activities and sign on the dole? That’s unlikely, to say the least.

More significant perhaps was the statement by the Loyalist Commission that the bloody feud between the UVF and the LVF is at an end. The LVF’s decision to call it a day wasn’t prompted by any deep-seated conviction that Ulster is safe and their job is done – the recent widespread street disorder and soaring loyalist discontent are evidence that loyalist morale has never been at a lower ebb.

The decision was more likely prompted by a good old-fashioned survival instinct – the UVF had claimed the lives of four men with the likelihood of more to follow, while the tiny rabble that is the LVF were incapable of formulating any kind of similar response. The UVF promised at the start of the latest feud that it wouldn’t stop until the LVF disappeared – that has now come to pass.

We report today, however, that death threats made against individuals during the feud are still in place. None of the people living with the threats over the head has been contacted by the PSNI and told that the threats have been lifted. “I’m not going to rest any more easy,” one death threat target said.

“No-one’s contacted me about it. As far as I’m concerned we’re still under threat and no-one has told us otherwise.” Such is the depth of personal enmity between individuals within the UVF and LVF it would be a foolish man indeed who put away his bulletproof vest and went back to sleeping in his own bed on the back of recent developments.

A statement formally lifting the threats would be welcome, and that’s something that the Loyalist Commission might profitably work towards.

The spotlight now falls on the UVF and the UDA, none of whom shows the slightest sign of preparing to go away. Statements from unionist political leaders in the wake of the LVF statement urging loyalists to follow that example suggest that the days when loyalist paramilitaries were tolerated or condoned by political unionism may be coming to an end. The IRA’s unilateral initiative cleared the way for a new and more positive political discourse, and we eagerly await that, but it has also stripped unionism and loyalism of any excuse for further prevarication or ambivalence when it comes to the UVF and UDA.

Crimewatch focus on UVF murders


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