Editor's Viewpoint: UVF drags community backwards by actions
More than 2,000 people from Belfast's Shankill Road attended Bobby Moffett's funeral yesterday in a show of defiance to the UVF, the organisation that police say were involved in the killing.
It was a brave gesture given that Moffett's murder is widely believed to have been the result of his own run-ins with the terror organisation.
While there is widespread revulsion throughout the community at the killing, that does not mean that the UVF's grip of terror on the Shankill and other heartlands has been grievously, never mind terminally, slackened. The men who ordered the murder and those who carried it out care little for the sensitivities of anyone else. Moffett was executed to show that the UVF doesn't accept dissent.
Events on the Shankill demonstrate the problem with loyalism. It does not have a defined future. The IRA and Sinn Fein were working on a carefully orchestrated joint project, and even that ended up with a dissident rump which refused to accept the peace process. Loyalist terrorists, apart from some notable exceptions like the late David Ervine or, before him, John McMichael, had no political road map to follow. Frankly, few of them were interested in politics apart from using it to line their pockets.
The resignation of Dawn Purvis from the leadership of the Progressive Unionist Party - which is aligned with the UVF - in disgust at the Moffett murder is a body blow. It removes what little political influence there is on the hard men and it seems likely that there will be further defections from the party. The danger is that loyalism will be left without any political anchor in the community. That would play totally into the hands of those who want to continue with their criminal activities.
Another concern is that areas like the Shankill, which have a strong paramilitary influence, will fall off the radar when it comes to investment and regeneration. That will simply lead to further neglect and a festering resentment against all authority. And we all know what that can lead to.