UDA stands down funny hat


So what are we to make of yesterday’s announcement by Uncle Andy and Big Mervyn that they are giving up the bad old ways and becoming nice, law-abiding, peaceful people?

My first reaction to the UDA’s standing down of the UFF is deep scepticism. It’s well known that the “UFF” has never been anything more than a cover name for the UDA – although the pretence that they were separate organisations allowed the Brits to keep the UDA legal for twenty-odd years – so it is not clear to me that the retirement of the UFF should be taken any more seriously than the UDA’s order some time ago standing down the “Red Hand Defenders”. Note that the very public leadership of this illegal organisation has stressed that it will be ploughing resources into its new legal front, the UDU, which just confirms that the UDA has more hats than Jamiroquai.

I was also entertained by the thundering speech from UDA emperor Jackie McDonald accompanying this declaration of peace. Emperor Jackie ruled out decommissioning on the grounds that the UDA’s guns were “the people’s guns”, and 99% of the people wouldn’t hear of decommissioning. This seems to be a peculiar usage of the word “people” to refer to members and supporters of the UDA. What we have instead, echoing the UVF’s move of earlier this year, is the notion of guns being “put beyond use”, which seems to mean that they will be taken off the local units and put under the supervision of the very trustworthy leadership of the UDA.

The UDA also promises to give up criminality, which would be significant if it happens, but I’ll believe that when I see it. During the course of the peace process, the Brits have handed over huge sums of money to the UDA but still haven’t been able to wean them off drug dealing, pimping and extortion. It remains to be seen whether your UDA brigadier who drives around his fiefdom in a pimped-up Lexus while wearing more gold than Mr T will so easily become a flat-cap-wearing community activist.

Emperor Jackie had another thing to say, that substantial votes were out there for UDA-sponsored candidates if the organisation mobilised its base in a serious way. I think not. Jackie should know that UDA-sponsored candidates have been running for election since 1973 with minimal success. This is not unconnected to the UDA’s wholly parasitic role in working-class loyalist communities.

The leopard does not change its spots so easily. In fact, our local media, usually frenetic in its insistence that the peace process is moving forward apace, has been quite sceptical of this announcement, which is a sure sign that nobody lends it much credence at all.


  1. Lurker said,

    November 13, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    ‘put beyond use’ is the terms used to cover formal decommissioning, as by the IRA.
    The UDA is being clever in distinguishing between putting weapons beyond use and decommissioning – legally the same thing.
    The UVF put weapons ‘beyond reach’.

  2. ejh said,

    November 13, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    What, like you’re supposed to do with alcohol and medicines?

  3. Cian said,

    November 13, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    ‘Child proofing’

  4. November 14, 2007 at 12:05 am

    Fanatics holding onto their guns and refusing to admit the war is over? Well, I suppose they didn’t call them the Japs for nothing.

  5. November 14, 2007 at 7:42 am

    […] less polished and varnished than we are used to from SF, but one phrase caught my attention (and that of Splintered Sunrise). He said that the UDA’s weapons were the people’s weapons. […]

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