This month’s print edition of Searchlight tells the most curious tale, of how the loyalist terror group the Ulster Volunteer Force may be preparing to dissolve itself.
There is no end to how strange the story is, as it first broke in some print editions of the Observer with a story written by veteran journalist Henry McDonald, based upon a highly placed source within the UVF. It also appeared in the (print only) Irish edition of the Independent on Sunday. For some reason the London edition of the Observer did not carry it, and it has not appeared on either paper’s web page. As Searchlight observes, this is a bit odd as it is BIG NEWS.
According to the UVF source: the war is over for their volunteers and they should engage in community based projects, and support the Progressive Unionist Party.
This prompted the article to be reproduced on the Combat 18 website (for those of you not in the know, 18 is code for Adolf Hitler), with an offensive message, the gist of which is that Combat 18 members don’t think very highly of the PUP
The Progressive Unionist Party is itself the strangest beast in all God’s creation. There is a declaration from the PUP on the website of the Irish republican journal the Blanket. “The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) is a democratic political party whose policies are based on the principles of democratic socialism. It was formed in 1977 by Independent Unionists, ex- Northern Ireland Labour Party members and a number of ex-prisoners associated with the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Red Hand Commando (RHC). … . The PUP sought to articulate the views of the working class, while at the same time, introducing policies that improved their quality of life.”
Since then the PUP, and particularly their capable frontman David Ervine have sought to straddle the two stools of progressive working class politics and armed loyalism. A task so seemingly impossible that it makes a marriage of Trotskyism, Galloway’s career and Islam sound quite respectable.
So will the UVF disband? Perhaps, but the source for the story says they will not decommission their arms. And as many loyalist paramilitaries, particularly the UDA are morphing into outright gangsters, without even a pretence of politics, a UVF source promised Searchlight: “there will be a time before it all finishes, before they all become politicians, where they’ll have to deal with those the process does not reach for whatever reason. Before we put the war to bed, we’ll have to put the monsters we created to sleep with it.”
In South Africa the conflict was lanced with the “Truth and Reconciliation” process. Are the loyalists going to end the war with a process of Death and Recrimination instead?