Loyal to what?
Revelations elsewhere in this paper tell of the confiscation of British-supplied weaponry from loyalists this week, along with reports that they are now arming themselves to the teeth, gearing up to turn the current spate of violence into something even more gruesome and irrational.
All this makes no sense. But loyalism has never made any sense. Their `ideology' is allegedly based on the defence of their communities, yet they are now enthusiastically engaged in destroying those very communities. They revel in their egomania so that they can shoot little girls in the back.
Republicans derive no satisfaction from the brutality taking place in loyalist areas. Nor do we find comfort in the dubious indications from loyalism of their support, or lack thereof, for the Good Friday Agreement. These are clearly problems that all political interest groups must use their influence to resolve, most notably the British government, who bear a special responsibility for the current difficulties.
The British government were perfectly satisfied for many years to support loyalist death squads by supplying them with information, weaponry and technology. It is no great exaggeration to say that the British security services reinvented and sustained the UDA on the Shankill. Faced with the feud now raging, and the real possibility that it will escalate, locking up Johnny Adair, swamping areas with troops or repudiating the violence is not enough. Feuds, civil wars and general discord are commonplace in countries which have been colonised and then vacated by Britain. The British must now invest their resouces in leaving Ireland free, not only from the shackles of occupation, but also from the hateful and degenerate sub-culture they have manufactured, fostered and directed to boost their own counterinsurgency strategy.
The onus also falls on loyalist leaders like Billy Hutchinson, David Ervine and Gary McMichael. Loyalism has to move on from being nothing but a by-word for the irrational hatred of republicans in particular and Catholics in general and a platform from which to justify acts that can only be described as degenerate.
The brave heroes of loyalism continued their campaign of terror this week with more petrol bombs on houses, shots through the windows of family homes, culminating in the hospitalisation of an eleven-year-old girl. And of course the sectarian attacks against nationalist neighbours have continued, if not at the same rate as earlier this summer, due to the distraction of the feud.
Charlene Daly has been fortunate in that her life was spared and, hopefully, she will make a full and swift recovery. But let us also hope that Charlene and other children in loyalist areas will see a future where their political leaders work for the benefit of their communities.