Admirable aim unachievable

Posted By: October 13, 2015

 Allison Morris. Irish News (Belfast).Tuesday, October 13, 2015
AS loyalist leaders prepare to gather to announce details of a new conflict resolution initiative today one of the most remarkable aspects will not be what they say, but, that they’re all together under one roof.

Militant loyalism is more fractured than it has been at any time in history and praise must go to UKIP’s David McNarry who managed to achieve the seemingly impossible by convincing the various factions to participate in a peace building project at all.

There has been a lot of talk of a ‘disbanding’ announcement but such a grand gesture is not only unlikely but completely undeliverable.

While UDA leader Jackie McDonald, pictured, may be able to promise and end to the organisation’s activity in south Belfast he has no authority over that group’s more militant north Antrim faction which have been actively targeting and carrying out paramilitary-style shootings over the past two years.

While John ‘Bunter’ Graham may be able to put an end date on the existence of the UVF, his call is unlikely to be heard by that organisation’s east Belfast faction who have been beating to their own drum for some considerable time.

Loyalists believe they got a raw deal from the peace process and that, while republicans achieved concessions in the form of on-the-run letters and Royal Pardons, as well as seats in government and being welcomed as peace makers by world leaders, loyalists have been pushed further into the margins of society.

McNarry, aided by Tony Blair’s former chief of staff Jonathan Powell, deserves credit for bringing them this far. But all the hard work and hours put in are unlikely to deliver loyalist unity and an end to paramilitary structures which could fracture even further given some fear relinquishing power and all the perks that go with it.

While moving paramilitary groups away from ongoing loyalist violence and criminality is an admirable aim, it is simply unachievable in the current climate.