Point of view: paramilitary groups must all disappear
David Campbell, chairman of the Council of Loyalist Communities, raised the troubling point of view of a new splinter loyalist organization emerging from the ashes of recent interface violence.
There are plans to revive the Orange Volunteers (OV), a loyalist Co Antrim-based micro-group that emerged during the Drumcree clash in the mid-1990s.
Mr. Campbell said there was a “concerted effort” to undermine the leadership of traditional loyalist organizations.
It is true that the UDA, the UVF and the Red Hand Commando were noticed by their absence during the recent riots.
The offered “proof” of their innocence is that if they had been involved, the violence would have been more widespread and better coordinated.
Mainstream organizations have largely disdained inter-communal violence since the CLMC ceasefire in 1994. Nonetheless, it is generally believed that the UDA’s southeastern Antrim Brigade is behind the protests in Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey. .
Described as a ‘flag-wrapped criminal cartel’, its more than 2,000 members have the capacity to prolong unrest, while those who orchestrate the violence delight in embarrassing the rulers of south Belfast.
The recent history of Northern Ireland is punctuated by an angry inventory of initialisms, most recently on the Republican side: CIRA, ONH, RIRA.
Regardless of their impenetrable ideological differences, these groups state only one thing: abject poverty. The same goes for Orange Volunteers.
It was only in the world of Alice Through The Looking Glass, which is post-conflict Northern Ireland, that anyone would even attempt to make a moral distinction between rival paramilitaries.
But so-called “traditional” loyalty has now abjured sectarian violence for nearly 30 years, albeit often at the expense of deadly internal attacks on other loyalists.
The last thing we need is to add soup to the sinister alphabet of paramilitary gangs. Let’s leave ourselves behind – starting with the Orange Volunteers.