Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Loyalist tensions still pose a threat

The loyalist paramilitary organisations showed remarkable restraint during the violence which flared for several nights around the Twelfth.

There seems no doubt that influential figures within the UVF and UDA are keeping a tight rein on the organisations, and sticking to their ceasefires and also to their decommissioning statements.

Yet it should be noted that there are tensions within loyalism, bubbling quietly away beneath the surface. Indeed, those tensions spilled out in May, when Bobby Moffett was shot dead on the Shankill Road. Then consensus of opinion is that he was shot by the UVF, and this is likely to be confirmed when the Independent Monitoring Commission - the government's paramilitary watchdog - produces its special report on the killing.

But the real interest will lie in the IMC's assessment of whether or not the murder was sanctioned by the UVF's leadership. If it was, then that would be interpreted as a clear breach of its ceasefire, but also proving that they have not put all their arms beyond use.

There are also tensions within the UDA, with mainstream leaders claiming that they have had their lives threatened by a breakaway faction led, they claimed, by a well-known dissident loyalist released from jail not long ago. Whether the threats are genuine or not is a moot point, but certainly the UDA remains one of the most volatile loyalist organisations, and further infighting would surprise no-one.

The report into the murder of one of the most notorious loyalist killers, Billy Wright, is also due to be published.

The findings on how three INLA men got arms and were able to get from their compound to the van bringing Wright to the visiting area, will be eagerly anticipated. Was it just lax security, or will questions of collusion continue to be aired?

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