It's an inconvenient truth but the UVF do kill people
Bobby Moffett was the 29th person murdered by the UVF since it began its ceasefire. So much for loyalist decommissioning, says Alan Murray
Brazen, merciless and - ultimately - purposeful. The purpose was to tell the unionist community that the UVF has the power and the intent to eradicate anyone who stands in its way or rebukes the thuggish actions of its members.
The use of guns in the murder of Bobby Moffett shouldn't surprise anyone.
There are guns out there at the disposal of every terrorist organisation. The IRA guns will be more distant from the streets, while the guns of the UDA will be available in some areas but not in others and the UVF guns will be largely controlled by those in the Shankill area who run the entire organisation.
Bobby Moffett pushed it to the point where the UVF leadership in the Shankill feared him - and feared that others like him would follow suit and batter the guys who wrecked the homes of their brothers or sisters over a remark made, or a slight implied with drink taken.
And should we be surprised Moffett was brutally cut down last Friday? Shocked. But not surprised.
Since the 1994 ceasefires, the UVF leadership has given tacit approval for the killing of around 29 people from the unionist community. Remember David McIlwaine and Andrew Robb - two teenagers savagely knifed to death near Tandragee in February 2000? Or Raymond McCord Jnr - bludgeoned to death in November 1997? They were both killed by the UVF.
At the time David Ervine of the PUP was strolling towards the TV cameras for set up shots, or being feted inside the television and radio studios for his great work for peace.
Coverage, in particular of the McCord murder, barely made it onto the bulletins and only a couple of journalists bothered with Raymond McCord Snr to highlight the involvement of the UVF in the killing thereafter.
Journalists who dared ventilate the inconvenient truth - that the UVF in north Belfast perpetrated this murder and others - were banned from the radio studios and still are.
The objective, you see, was the collective Governmental and media effort not to damage the 'peace process' by causing one of the participants to bolt, especially the UVF, because the reckoning was that if it said the deal was okay, then so would the UDA.
And so it proved, including the decommissioning objective. The appalling consequence, of course, is that 29 murders later the UVF suspects it enjoys an immunity from prosecution or meaningful censure.
It was only when the then Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, was preparing to release her report into the activities of the UVF in north Belfast that the media really picked up on the Raymond McCord story and then, in the main, only to gorge in criticism of the running of agents within the UVF by the RUC and, latterly, the PSNI.
The attempted murder of the key police informer Mark Haddock in May 2006 similarly brought little discomfort to the UVF - decommissioning had still to happen.
Last year it did decommission many weapons, so presumably any political leverage the UVF exercised through its inclination to decommission has now gone and the 'full rigour' of the law will be applied to its activists who batter, wreck and kill again and again.
Raymond McCord has been told that the UVF intends to murder him. Andre Shoukri and his pal John Boreland have been warned that loyalists intend to cause them 'harm', according to the PSNI.
Shoukri and Boreland are hardly your average law-abiding citizens and neither would claim to be. But the 'good' UDA, facilitated and entertained by the Irish President, presumably wants to kill them, or drive them beyond their homes and their families.
The law of the paramilitary jungle has been indulged for a decade and more as the NIO sought to persuade both main loyalist organisations to the path of non-violence.
Sometimes you think they might be gaining ground, but when a merciless assassination is perpetrated in broad daylight on a Friday afternoon, sanctioned or not, it makes you wonder who is winning.