Belfast Telegraph

UDA and UVF must disband

By Declan Kearney

The rampage of mob violence unleashed by the UDA in Larne last Sunday was the inevitable consequence of unionist paramilitary organisations existing in our society.

It doesn't matter that the Larne attacks were organised by the "south-east Antrim UDA", rather than another faction.

In north Belfast, two other UDA factions are reportedly vying for dominance and control – one of them allied to the west Belfast UDA, which is involved with the UVF in stoking sectarian tensions on the Ardoyne interface.

Both of these unionist paramilitary groups were supposed to leave the stage years ago. Instead, they maintain standing organisations and are involved in widespread criminality.

The UVF announced its demobilisation in 2007. Today, it is recruiting new members, while its "demobilisation" process is supposedly continuing.

That's a decision made by the central UVF command. Since 2013, that structure has allowed the east Belfast leadership to try and kill a police officer and, more recently, three civilians in two separate gun attacks.

The UDA and UVF make absolutely no contribution to the peace and political processes.

It is a disgrace that figures from both the DUP and UUP unhesitatingly and openly attend meetings, protests and public platforms with their representatives.

The UDA and UVF should disband immediately. They are both lightning rods for sectarianism and political instability, as the street violence of nearly three years demonstrates.

Each group holds back the potential for any coherent, class-based political consciousness developing within unionism. The UVF, in particular, is a monkey on the back of the PUP.

At present, any potential for a class-based, unionist political alternative emerging is being discredited and destroyed by the gangsterism and sectarianism of both the UDA and UVF and other unionist extremists.

Maybe that's another reason why the DUP and UUP say so little about the activities of unionist paramilitaries.

Declan Kearney is national chairman of Sinn Fein

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