Irish Republican News · November 23, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
DUP ‘hypocrisy’ over talks with loyalists

The DUP party’s decision to sanction talks with the Loyalist Commission has been hailed as “a huge shift”, but it is widely known that the party has been talking actively and behind closed doors to unionist paramilitaries for the last 30 years.

It is believed the party hopes to meet the Loyalist Commission - which includes UDA and UVF members as well as clergy, unionist politicians and community representatives - before Christmas.

North Belfast Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly called on the DUP to show political leadership by meeting his party for the first time.

“If the DUP are to meet the Loyalist Commission in order to address the issues of the continuation of loyalist paramilitaries and the violence that is directed at both the nationalist and unionist communities by them, this is to be duly welcomed,” he said.

“But the DUP stance on dialogue is absolutely nonsensical.

“Sinn Fein are the largest nationalist party and reflect the views and aspirations of thousands of people on this island, therefore for the DUP to refuse to still sit down and engage with Sinn Fein is a farce.”

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness also accused the DUP of taking a contradictory stand.

“On the one hand they say that they will have nothing to do with republicans on the basis of their connection with the Provisional IRA and, on the other hand, they sit down with loyalist paramilitaries,” he said.

“If they are serious about engaging with loyalist paramilitaries in order to bring them into the democratic fold they should be serious about talking to representatives of the Provisional movement for a similar purpose.”

The DUP last night declined to comment.

For years, the party vowed never to get involved with the Loyalist Commission because it included members of the Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Volunteer Force members.

The DUP insisted in public that paramilitaries should be locked up and not talked to.

However, yesterday’s statement was just confirmation of the fact for many nationalists.

During the Ulster Workers’ Council strike in 1974, DUP leader Ian Paisley surrounded himself with UDA men, including the organisation’s leader Andy Tyrie, to bring industry in the North to a halt.

In the 1960s, Mr Paisley worked with UVF man Noel Docherty to set up the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee, which later developed a UVF-linked subsection called the Ulster Protestant Volunteers. Members of that subgrouping were involved in scores of sectarian murders during the early part of the conflict.

There is no suggestion that Mr Paisley himself was ever involved in paramilitarism.

In the 1980s, the DUP leadership began to flirt openly with paramilitaries again. Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Sammy Wilson attended an Ulster Resistance rally in Belfast’s Ulster Hall.

Ulster Resistance was set up in response to the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.

The group was heavily involved in shipping arms into the North for use by loyalist paramilitaries.

The group’s 70 assault rifles, 30 Browning pistols, 165 fragmentation grenades, 10,000 rounds of ammunition and four RPG7 rocket launchers have been used in more than 20 murders.

The DUP’s relationship with unionisst paramilitaries was again exposed in 1996 when then Mid-Ulster MP Willie McCrea shared a stage at a loyalist rally with the Loyalist Volunteer Force leader Billy Wright.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News