Thursday, March 22, 2007

Labour gives £1 million to death squad

Today the government announced a grant of £1.2 million to the Loyalist murder squad, the “Ulster Defence Association” or UDA. This is on top of £135000 given to them by the government six months ago.

As the BBC says: “The thorny issue of weapons was not mentioned in the government's announcement. … Loyalist sources say decommissioning is not yet on the agenda”

Let us remind ourselves of the sort of activities the UDA have been involved with. According to the University of Ulster’s CAIN project, the UDA carried out 112 sectarian murders under their own name, and a further 147 using the name Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF). Just to quote one period, the university says: “During the Stevens inquiry it became apparent that the UDA had access to a large number of security files on Republicans and suspected members of Republican paramilitary groups. During the 1990s the UFF stepped up its attacks on Catholics and Republicans. It also attacked SDLP politicians and councillors. There were a number of multiple killings including: five Catholics on 5 February 1992 in Belfast; three Catholics on 14 November 1992; six Catholics during 48 hours in March 1993; and six Catholics and one Protestant on 30 October 1993.”

Get that – the UDA had “security files” – how did they get them? The answer is they got them directly from the British state. In 1989 the UDA assassinated Sinn Féin Councillor John Davey on behalf of the British state, having only two days earlier murdered the respected human rights lawyer, Pat Finucane.

The UDA are literally a terror organisation designed to intimidate the six counties’ Catholic minority into submission.

Let us look at another example. In 1993 three UDA members walked into the Rising Star bar in Greysteel where a totally innocent Halloween party was in progress, they produced machine pistols and simply indiscriminately opened fire, one of them shouting “trick or treat” – eight people were killed. The UDA announced that the murders were for no other reason than because Greysteel had a “nationalist electorate"!

Last week Ian Paisley, a man who can pretty fairly be described as a fascist, became leader of the largest party in Stormont, and will be First Minister, and his party will be exercising a bigoted veto on all the activities of ministers, from whichever party.

The police service is so confident in its sectarianism, that senior officers can refuse to cooperate with a government inquiry into police collusion in murder without any disciplinary action. And waiting in the wings are the loyalist death squads, that have not been disbanded, not been "stood down", not been disarmed. But have been given £1 million of New Labour’s money.

Could the colonial nature of the six counties be made any clearer?


Liam Mac Uaid said...

Maybe they will use the money to pay for a cross community campaign against the water charges.

WorldbyStorm said...

An interesting post but much to disagree or at least raise some questions with. I hold no brief whatsoever for the UDA. They're pretty grim and have had links with the extreme right (although of a fairly pro forma nature - somewhat along the lines of 'my enemies enemy'). But to characterise them at this point in time as 'death squads' (not that they didn't have aspects of that in previous decades) is arguably over hyping them.

WRT to your CAIN references and such like can you point to more recent activities by the UDA or UFF that can be characterised as a murder campaign against Nationalists or Catholics say from 2001 onwards? No, you can't. The UDA may be foul, but it's not been involved in such like for a considerable period of time.
Regarding the security files in a society like Northern Ireland it's vastly more likely that they got them from sympathetic members within the security forces (or indeed from certain members of intelligence organisations off the leas). Does that make it right. No, absolutely not. But it's not quite the same as saying they got them directly from the British state (that's even before we enter a discussion on the nature of the British state which is hardly a seamless monolith across it's many aspects).

The primary role of the UDA is unlikely to be the intimidation of the Catholic minority (actually not that small a minority) into submission. At one point they were a reactionary response from the Unionist working class to their nominal loss of stature. These days whatever their communal or political pretensions they're more focussed as a criminal conspiracy in so far as they've been heavily involved in racketeering, drugs etc, and once in the odd while they've actually acted as a reasonably progressive force as with their support for the GFA and with a line which counter to your own analysis was actually antagonistic to the DUP in the extreme.

Greysteel was indeed appalling but it wasn't the only sectarian attacks in the North at that point in time, and nor were they from the one side, what of thinly veiled elements within PIRA and INLA who waged de facto sectarian attacks upon Protestants - or indeed it's ahistorical not to note that it came directly in the wake of the PIRA bombing on the Shankill Road of a fish shop (purportedly and I'm fairly sure correctly so) aimed at the UDA but which killed nine people. If we're playing this game it's as well to note there are many more who were involved and who, like the UDA turned largely against armed conflict.

Re Paisley, well Medieval theocrat ermmm...perhaps, social ultra conservative, very likely, but fascist? Probably not, when he's actually moved from a position in 1987 of total antagonism towards powersharing with even the soft nationalists of the SDLP to one where he and his party accept that dealing with SF is a reality of life. And I'm not as certain as you that he can hold a veto, bigoted or not, on the activities of the Executive which operates in the remarkable way that it does under the GFA, quite independently from the political platforms of those within it. He certainly can't prevent all-island links being established etc since they're written into the GFA and St. Andrews text.

Regarding the O'Loan Report on collusion it's also worth noting as on P.35 of that Report that it was former police officers from the RUC and PSNI, not currently serving members of the PSNI who refused to cooperate. That's a disgrace and one hopes against expectation that something will be done. She has made it clear in the report that the PSNI has implemented the vast majority of her recommendations on how to avoid collusion in the future. Now that's a tired old reformist line. But in the absence of socialist revolution it'll have to do.

Finally re the colonial character of the six counties, well that analysis is correct only if you think that it is a colony and you're willing to ignore some fairly pertinent information. I don't, as a Republican and a socialist, believe that it is a colony in any meaningful sense and therefore we'll have to agree to differ.

All that said, should they get funding? Difficult one this. Very few are happy with this state of affairs, including the DUP, is possible that some sort of funding might have some positive effect.

AN said...

Hiya WorldbyStorm, I think there is too much there to debate easily in the context of blog comments, but I think the major point I am making here is the message that Hain is sending by funding the UDA, without any military decommissioning being a precondition.

In the context of the victory of imperialism in northern Ireland, and the capitulation of Sinn Fein, then the (very recent) past of the UDA as an anti-catholic terror group is all too relevent. IMO It sends the message that it will be business as usual for Orangism.