Forwarded from Phil Ferguson (posted from unsubbed address)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sun Aug 27 18:35:39 MDT 2000


The following is a commentary by British Marxist group Red Action.  RA is
one of the few groups on the British far left which still support Sinn Fein
and argue that the peace process is advanciong the republican/national
liberation cause.  Although I disagree with them on this, I do happen to
agree with them on a number of other issues.  Also, I think their
commentary below is a good summary of the schisms in Unionism.  (My
argument, however, would be that it is the demise, rather than victory, of
republicanism which has created the fragmentation and crisis of Unionism.
The Unionists no longer have an enemy to define themselves against.  I also
would strongly disagree with their characterisation of republican
dissidents.):


> RA News at: http://www.redaction.org/
>
> LOYALISM AT WAR!
>
> 21st August 2000
>
> As this report is drafted, offices of the Ulster Democratic Party
> (UDP) have been raked by gunfire, while in retaliation the
> Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) offices, are on fire. The fire-
> setters come not from within the ranks of dissident republicanism,
> but from within pro and anti-peace process elements within the
> heartlands of working class loyalism. Earlier today, Monday 21
> August, two leading loyalist were shot dead outside a bookies by the
> UVF. Over the weekend the Rex bar, a UVF hangout, was twice attacked
> by UFF elements with shots fired on both occasions. On Saturday icon
> of loyalism, and former UVF assassin Gusty Spence, the inspiration
> behind the politics of the PUP, was manhandled from his bungalow,
> before it too was torched. In all of it it is clear that the UFF,
> with Johnny Adair as the inspiration, are the primary protagonists.
>
> Adair a former National Front supporter whom Charlie Sargent of C18
> once alleged was 'an ally' is on licence from a sixteen year sentence
> for "directing terrorism", but seems hell bent on stretching the
> conditions of his release to the limit. Not only is he orchestrating
> events behind the scenes, but was to the forefront of the attack on
> the Rex. As well, though this time masked, his bulky figure was all
> too easily distinguishable among the UFF gunmen who fired a volley of
> shots from the stage at a loyalist 'festival' on Saturday. All so far
> with impunity.
>
> Billy Hutchinson the PUP leader, has attacked the RUC for inaction.
> This passivity is he claims, what led directly to the UVF retaliation
> today. Peter Mandelson describes it as 'turf war' as if the
> motivations and consequences were entirely apolitical. This is eye
> wash. A major part in the antagonisms within loyalism is the
> conflicting strategies and objectives of the mainstream
> paramilitaries. PUP/UVF have a political analysis that rejects the
> classless unionism of old. Partly as a consequence it supports,
> despite doubts, the peace process. It has elected members of the
> assembly and favours a political solution as an alternative to holy
> war with nationalism. Holy war is precisely what the UFF and their
> Portadown allies in the UVF breakaway the LVF, hanker after most. By
> comparison, and not insignificantly, the political wing of the UFF,
> the UDP, has little or no political representation on any level, as a
> result of the absence of a serious political analysis. Moreover as a
> result of the absence of credible UDP political support on the
> ground, the PUP has increasingly taken the lead in tackling the drugs
> issue in loyalist working class communities. By all accounts a
> progressive one at that. The UFF with Adair at the helm, are as Sinn
> Fein's Gerry Kelly said on Question Time recently "up to their necks
> in it!" Another another obvious source of conflict.
>
> Now Adair might indeed be the 'Mad Dog' he is nicknamed, but on the
> other hand, it is not at all implausible, that he is acting under the
> protection of a section of the 'securocrats', who are as determined
> as he is to collapse the Good Friday Agreement. (Traditionally the
> UFF have, in Belfast anyway, always been from a 'spook' point of
> view, the more malleable of the main loyalist factions.) For this
> stratagem to work effectively, loyalism would need to be made unitary
> and whole once more. Meaning that the pro-peace agreement loyalists
> such as the UVF/PUP, would need to be politically or physically
> purged from the heartlands of east Belfast and Portadown in
> particular.
>
> In 1994 when the IRA declared it's ceasefire, the cries from the
> British and Irish Left were of 'sell-out'. Loyalism briefly
> concurred, with UFF graffiti going up on the Shankill 'accepting the
> surrender of the IRA'. But far from sell-out, one of the key
> components of the republican strategy was to break Unionism from the
> British. Once that division became apparent, the outcome was the
> inevitable fragmentation of unionism itself. The evidence is now
> there for all to see. Six years ago, it was Gusty Spence, who on
> behalf of the Combined Loyalist Military Command declared 'the
> loyalist war over'. Now it is he who is driven from his home as if he
> was a paedophile. From icon to renegade over one weekend. Not only is
> working class loyalism split, apparently irrevocably on paramilitary
> levels, it is also hopelessly divided against itself on every other
> conceivable political level as well. A community used to being
> represented by the Ulster Unionist Party for over half a century, now
> has the choice of DUP, UDP, PUP, UKIP and UUP. All of whom harbour
> hatreds for each other, that can on occasion displace even their
> hatred of republicans, which is saying something! Trimble's UUP is
> moreover in effect two parties, under the same tent. One faction led
> by Trimble falteringly pro-peace, the other resolutely anti-GFA. So
> whatever the outcome of the face-off in east Belfast, what is
> undoubted is that loylalism will emerge significantly the weaker.
> Ironically, murderous feuds were what was planned by unionism and the
> securocrats for republicanism. And contrary to all Brit Left
> predictions, both north and south republicanism is going from
> strength to strength.
>
> Of course the republicans renegades have not entirely 'gone away you
> know'. Coincidentally they choose Saturday (with typical sensitivity
> almost the anniversary date of the Omagh bomb) to stage a social in
> West Belfast. The 32 County Sovereignty Committee made pointed
> remarks against an individual who had lost a son in the bombing. A
> picket of the event by relatives was according to the IRISH
> NEWS "haughtily" ordered to leave the area. The IRISH NEWS went on to
> make the point that Adair has displayed "precisely the same sense of
> arrogance" in his dealings with his respective community. "As a
> result of their own conduct, they deserve to be regarded as blood
> brothers".
>
> At the time of the Omagh bomb, (which incidentally was politically
> directed not against the British, but against Republicanism as Sinn
> Fein were the biggest party on the local council) and more recently
> there have been well founded suspicions that the dissidents may be
> controlled by the Brits in the same way as they previously controlled
> the UFF. It is conspicuous for instance that the Irish security
> forces are remarkably more diligent that the British in running the
> dissidents to ground. It is also more than a little curious, that the
> most supposedly hardline physical force republicans, and the most
> reactionary and fascistic elements of loyalism now share a common
> political goal: the destruction of an accord between working class
> communities on either side of the divide. Mad dogs they may well be,
> but with one suspects, the one political master.


Louis Proyect
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