How are the unionist politicians of the Executive going to make sense of their current stance and their insistence on the existence of the IRA ,when the UDA have told us all publicly today , that they, themselves, actually exist and have no plans to cease that existence at anytime soon …no matter what anyone wants. As far as the UDA are concerned , it would appear that even a political movement for a republican ideal ..or even an aspiration to be a republican, living in a republican land, as opposed to wanting to be a royalist or a “loyalist” as a political option, if you like , is a step too far .They intend to remain as an illegal paramilitary organisation to oppose even that aspiration. In other words, they feel that the politicians who vaguely represent their point of view, are not up to the job. In fact those politicians can hardly support this kind of point of view and stay on in the Assembly anyway. To support their point of view they’d have to ask the Chief Constable to get in there and sort these malcontents out. They’ll hardly do that while sharing platforms and demonstrations with them , though. They are illegal after all.Now what does that say about them or these politicians?The IRA, on the other hand, have said they no longer exist and make no bones about it.That’s hardly being illegal, is it?
The UDA seem to be saying that even if the place were to become a viable, agreed republic , they’d fight to oppose the will of the people and hope to overturn that decision…possibly by illegal , forceful and armed means, I’d imagine . That’s how we all got into this situation in the first place a hundred years ago, remember? Let’s face it, their own political aspiration fell on stony ground when their supporters refused to vote them into politics in any real way in the years following the Godd Friday Agreement.Their supporters instead opted to either not vote at all or if they did , they voted for the unionist parties we now see in power …the DUP, the UUP and a few other smaller parties all on the conservative right-wing. That is who the UDA are and what unionism is too.
The people who comprise all these groupings do not exist in a vacuum, after all.They are the same interchangeable people.
What is an aspirant nationalist or republican supposed to make of this veiled threat of violence? It has long been the case that the fight for a republic was to be a wholly political journey. A filthy span of violence and awful destruction between two opposing views ,brought us all to this point and It was agreed on by the Good Friday Agreement that it could not continue as a violent stalemate. . You can see why James Molyneux the old UUP leader was fearful of nationalism taking a completely political route.The IRA quitting was seen as the worst possible thing for unionism. It is easy to demonise your opponent if he is a bogeyman with a gun but if he has no gun and fights and wins politically , what do you do then? It is the only reason the killing stopped at that time . There is much talk about defeat of the IRA but the conclusion was much more subtle than simply that. It caused the SDLP to all but dissappear , for one thing. The result was the same for Molyneux’s UUP. The disbandonment of the IRA caused that.Giving up their weaponry may have seemed like some kind of surrender at the time for some on both sides of the conflict who perceive slaughter and killing as the main event, but the results of the action cannot be denied. The SDLP lost their voters to the SinnFein project or possibly some to the Alliance Party and the UUP lost theirs to the DUP.
Does the UDA really believe that they would be supported by a British public in Scotland , Wales and England in some future scenario should they they attempt to overturn the will of a majority of people to break away from Westminster and form a new kind of republic with the rest of Ireland ?What would they do if Scotland decided to opt for a republic? If they started a violent uprising on those kind of terms they would very quickly be abandoned to a wilderness and find themselves very much alone in possibly a couple of very small and crowded redoubts. This is not 1912 , after all.There’s really not much in it for the UK except for more grief which would probably cause them to fully disengage anyway.
When you look at our current political impasse from this perspective , it’s easy to see why even”respectable” unionist politicians , who consistently pretend to hold their loyalist supporters at arms length don’t really want any rapid political movement in Norneverland either . They see that as their real defeat. Progress doesn’t seem to spell advancement for unionism.Progress will always take something away from their conservative world view .Change is always seen as a defeat. They would prefer that the nationalist vehicle was put into reverse or at least thrown out of gear for as long as possible so that it remains motionless. That’s really what has been happening these past three or more years as Stormont goes around in circles each winter . They want rid of Sinn Fein by whatever means ,it seems. They want to believe that the IRA is the other face of the same spinning coin that the UDA inhabits. Their problem really is that there is only a phantom nemesis and the coin has now only one face . The republican political project now demands that something like violence, which obscures and confuses everything , is no longer the proper tool for the job.It was found to be a blunt chisel. We should all feel thankful that its time has passed but It will become ever clearer when the old guard of republicanism dies away and is replaced by younger faces.The UDA should be thanking their lucky stars too that the violence is over..
One deluded phone -in caller on the radio today said he was glad that the UDA was still in existence because he felt in his heart that the IRA was already sitting in government . He obviously inhabits some mad fantasy world where the UDA will be needed, fully -armed when a future armageddon arrives.Little does he know that it ‘s worse than that. The IRA is really gone long ago. Legitimate republican aspirants,the ones Molyneux feared, not the bogeymen IRA men with guns of yore , are actually sitting in those governmental seats for the first time and by the look of things ,they intend to stay there . I haven’t seen much in the way of any other competition for their vote yet.There may be many others canvassing but it is Sinn Fein which appears to have grown and are winning the majority of nationalism’s votes.They’re voting for politics , not war.
Maybe the UDA , the DUP or the UUP have some other new ideas but nobody has seen any of them either.If they don’t want republicans in politics with them , what is their ideal and rational alternative?….some kind of knock-down physical force war that will go nowhere, maybe?