Yesterday was a grand day for loyalist GUBU. In Dublin, our Taoiseach met a PUP delegation led by dear departed Ervine’s successor Dawn Purvis, who wanted reassurance that Bertie was fully committed to devolution in the North and wasn’t plotting any dastardly schemes like joint authority. Bertie has of course said so many times, but Dawn wanted to hear it again.
Dawn also wanted the Dublin government to give assurances about cracking down on the threat of dissident republican violence. This is at a time when over a hundred people are under death threats believed to emanate from the UVF. But that’s all right, because Dawn says that the UVF told her this was not their doing, and Dawn is willing to take their word for it. Dawn Purvis, by the way, is a member of the Policing Board.
Meanwhile, the British government’s ceasefire monitor issued its latest report [pdf]. The IMC told us, not that we needed telling, that both the UVF and UDA remained active and were up to their oxters in criminality. This despite the Provos, the loyalist groups’ ostensible reason for existing, effectively going out of business. The contradiction even penetrated our uncritical local media, with Wendy Austin on Good Morning Ulster asking Dawn what was the point of the UVF these days. Dawn, of course, dodged the question.
But our beautifully groomed proconsul doesn’t seem to have even the nous of the local media. Hain’s response to the IMC report was to say that this was the wrong time to isolate loyalism. He was convinced that the loyalist leaderships were decent and peaceful folk, who needed help to face down their backwoodsmen. This could be achieved by throwing yet more public money at armed loyalism.
As it happens, there are one or two things the British government could do to help working-class Protestant communities. Stopping public subsidies to the paramilitaries who prey on these communities would be a start.