The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Get Tough Now

A case for getting tough with loyalist criminality, including the use of selective internment, otherwise the PSNI could be forced into an 1980s-style alleged 'shoot to kill' scenario

Dr. John Coulter • 16 August 2005

There's the real danger that loyalist criminality, not republican, in the form of Protestant paramilitary feuds could derail the peace process this autumn.

Already Protestant jungle drums are sounding the beat of rival loyalist groups engaging in another bloody turf war over drugs and racketeering.

Given that sectarian tensions are always heightened during the traditional Marching Season anyway, another tit-for-tat loyalist bloodbath, especially in the mid Ulster region, will plunge many Protestant working class districts into dens of fear.

New Northern Secretary Peter Hain needs to get his finger out and put more cops on the streets, otherwise we could see a return to the 'bad auld days' of internment and alleged 'shoot to kill' tactics.

The Northern Ireland Office is treading a very thin line. Hain, his fellow ministers and their senior civil servants need to urgently pour resources into the PSNI.

If they don't, they could create a set of circumstances which tragically force Chief Constable Hugh Orde into a security corner, leaving him with no other option but to introduce selective internment of known loyalist mobsters.

Failure to deal effectively with loyalist crime lords and their underlings could see a series of serious fist fights being sparked at numerous traditionally peaceful loyalist band parades.

The loyalist 'blood and thunder' marching band scene - especially in urban areas - has always been a quiet haven for Protestant extremists, ever on the look out for new, young recruits.

All it will take is a few bloody punch-ups and mini-riots at band parades and the Parades Commission will start cracking down not just at contentious parade routes through nationalist areas, but also in Protestant districts to prevent loyalist turf wars.

If such band bust-ups are not checked by the security forces, it is only a matter of time before they erupt at Loyal Order demonstrations and Orange Order church parades. This will give the anti-Loyal Order activists in the London and Dublin governments all the ammunition they require to eventually ban the Twelfth itself.

For the Brits, internment is a dirty word after the blunders in the early Seventies when it was used largely against the nationalist community based on inaccurate or outdated intelligence.

Internment - next to Bloody Sunday - became one of the biggest recruiting agents for the Provos in their history. However, there is no chance the selective internment of the mafia thug elements from the LVF, UFF or UVF will see a massive influx of young Protestants into the ranks of the paramilitaries.

Likewise, the longer the Brits leave it to support the PSNI with more manpower against loyalist criminality, the closer the day beckons when an alleged 'shoot to kill' tactic could be implemented against feuding terrorists.

This will bring the North back to the controversial days of the 1980s when the secret police unit E4A was allegedly involved in a series of incidents when unarmed republicans were shot dead.

And not forgetting the Gibraltar incident when three unarmed IRA members were shot dead by the SAS whilst planning an attack on British forces.

Then again, this raises the spectre of some desk-bound strategists within the English establishment viewing having to deal harshly with loyalist criminality as an opportunity for the security forces to return the serve.

Are we to witness scenes of known LVF activists dying in mysterious circumstances at PSNI checkpoints?

Some English overlords were prepared to tolerate an acceptable level of violence during the Northern Troubles.

To get Stormont up and running, is the English establishment of the new millennium prepared to look the other way as those loyalists involved in vicious internecine feuding are either interned or die in 'unusual' incidents?

In terms of public opinion, would there really be such an outcry if a few leading loyalist criminal gang leaders and henchmen were either interned or 'executed' by the security forces so that the overwhelming majority of the North's 1.7 population could enjoy a return to legislative, democratic government?

In the South, the Garda has flexed its muscles against criminal gangs, and especially in the recent 'Wild Western'-style shootout. Many Northern Unionists would be highly commending of the Garda in its fight against organised criminal gangs.

Maybe the time has come to form an all-Ireland joint Garda/PSNI unit with 'hot pursuit' powers to root out the criminal gangs who are strangling the poverty-line or tax-paying communities across the island.

To use a Hollywood film cliché, has the time come for a specialist all-Ireland anti-mafia police unit to be given the powers of 'extreme prejudice' when dealing with ultra-violent crime lords?

The situation must be created that there is no hiding place - north or south - where organised criminals can feel safe from the firepower of the Garda/PSNI 'G-Men'.

'The Untouchables' may have been a Hollywood blockbuster which highlighted the extreme methods which a special American cop unit took against crime lord Al Capone.

We need to see the same determination in our police forces north and south of the border if the cancer of criminality - whether paramilitary or gangland - is to be permanently eradicated from our society.

If we don't adopt tough tactics in this decade, our children and grand-children will pay the price for a 'softly, softly' policy in the next decade.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

17 August 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Changes Needed All Over
Eamonn McCann

Get Tough Now
Dr John Coulter

What for the Future?
Mick Hall

Why has Gerry Adams never finished Ulysses?
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Bombing London is No Longer Good News for the IRA
Anthony McIntyre

The Conflict Encapsulated
David Adams

No More Second Class Citizens
Paul Little

Nothing Has Changed
Anthony McIntyre

Venezuela: Lessons of Struggle
Tomas Gorman

10 August 2005

Failed Entity
Anthony McIntyre

Towards Justice: Damien Walsh Lecture
Fr Sean Mc Manus

Where Terror Reigns
Fred A Wilcox

Lack of Trust — Or Courage?
Mick Hall

Process of Consulting Loses Sway
David Adams

Unionism Can't Run on Empey
Anthony McIntyre

Another Side to the Surrender
Brian Mór

Provisional Surrender A Sell-Out
Joe Dillon

The Greatest Betrayal of All
Proinsias O'Loinsaigh

Censorship at the Irish Echo
John McDonagh & Brian Mór

Take Ireland Out of the War: Irish Anti War Movement News
Michael Youlton

Venezuela: Factories Without Bosses
Tomas Gorman



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