Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Bobby Moffett shooting makes a mockery of decommissioning

Bobby Moffett (44) was murdered on the Shankill Road in an area crowded with shoppers
Flowers at the scene of Bobby Moffett's murder on the Shankill Road
The scene where a man was shot on the Shankill Road

When gunmen fired on Bobby Moffet on the Shankill Road on Friday, the leader of the PUP Dawn Purvis was attending a wedding in Donegal.

And, because of the political links her party has to the UVF and the Red Hand Commando, it is she who is being asked publicly to comment on what happened.

The phone calls started soon after Friday’s shooting, and haven’t stopped since.

At the weekend the east Belfast MLA described the killing as “horrific” and “wrong” and said there would be consequences if the UVF were linked to it. There will be.

But the gunmen won’t have thought about Dawn Purvis or the political consequences of their actions.

This latest killing is the ‘hard man’ stuff of the loyalist underworld.

One man who had challenged and confronted a number of UVF leaders, and who had become “a thorn in their flesh” had to die to preserve egos and control inside this part of the loyalist community.

In the past the UVF embarrassed David Ervine on many occasions.

And far too often political loyalism is undermined by the actions of the paramilitaries.

Now, is one such occasion.

And there is a choice to be made. For how much longer is that political link maintained between the UVF and the PUP?

There are those within loyalism who say if it is going to be severed then that should be a decision for the UVF.

But what if the actions of that organisation make it impossible to maintain a link?

Loyalism still has many dark corners and dark characters — drug dealers, people involved in all sorts of crime and intimidation.

There will be political and policing decisions to be made after this latest shooting — decisions about who to meet and who not to meet from the loyalist community.

This shooting by the UVF makes a mockery of their decommissioning.

“Everybody is disgusted,” one senior loyalist commented.

But in that paramilitary underworld, not everybody will be disgusted, not those who gave the orders and did the shooting.

If political loyalism wants to grow, it has a decision to make and not long to make it.

The longer it is seen to have links with organisations such as the UVF the more damage will be done.

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