The widow of David Ervine has urged paramilitaries to put away their guns following the murder of Bobby Moffett, warning they could become “pariahs” among their own people.
Jeanette Ervine spoke exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph about her shock at Friday's Shankill Road murder when masked gunmen fired on Moffett in broad daylight.
The UVF is being blamed for killing the one-time Red Hand Commando prisoner — a shooting that comes almost a year after both organisations claimed to have decommissioned all weapons under their control.
Mrs Ervine's husband died suddenly in January 2007.
A one-time UVF prisoner jailed after being caught transporting a bomb, he became a Stormont MLA and leader of the PUP.
“There is no place for guns in our society,” his widow said. People need to work out differences.
“When they (loyalists) decommissioned the ordinary people would have felt guns had been removed from our society and that people would be able to live normal lives.
“The people on the Shankill Road have suffered enough.
“I thought about what that community suffered at the hands of other loyalists in the past,” Mrs Ervine added.
The news of Friday's killing, she said, was a shocking reminder of Northern Ireland's violent, troubled past.
“I can understand that community being shocked by a shooting in broad daylight witnessed by young people who haven't come through the horror of the Troubles,” she said.
“The shooting brought to mind a piece David had written.
“And even though it was many years ago, I thought it was still relevant.
“Whenever David wrote anything he would have read it over to me and asked what I thought.
“And the point he was making is that when the paramilitaries go away, what is their future role in the community.
“That role can't be what happened last Friday, because then they become a pariah to their own people,” she said.
Mrs Ervine released to the Belfast Telegraph the previously unpublished piece written by her husband in January 2006, a year before his death.
“To speed the day when we come of age as a people, the paramilitaries must go away.
“But, a logical question is, what does going away mean?
“Does it mean skulking into the shadows?
Does it mean skulking into the shadows to ply vested interest?” David Ervine had written.
He meant going away could not mean a life in the shadows.
“The war is over,” he added.
“Given that that is so manifestly the case, then there are consequences which follow.
“How does one sustain an army and justify that army's existence against a backdrop where ever more the population feel less dependent upon the services of that army?
“If it has not yet begun, then it is but a short way off that the integrity of the army's being will be challenged among the people it is meant to serve.”
David Ervine was writing about the paramilitary armies.
The actions of one of those groups, the UVF, have made a mockery of last year's decommissioning statement and put pressure on Dawn Purvis, Mr Ervine's successor as leader of the PUP.
After Friday's killing, she must now decide whether her party can maintain political links to organisations such as the UVF and Red Hand Commando.