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9 July 2009 Edition

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The Mary Nelis Column

Full extent of unionist armoury must be decommissioned

IN media terms it was the non-event of the year, upstaged by the death of a world pop idol, Michael Jackson. The UVF and Red Hand Commando announced that they had destroyed all their weapons, a claim backed up by General John de Chastelain.
The UDA/UFF on the other hand has failed so far to destroy all its weapons and the General is quoted as saying he looks forward to the day when that process will be completed and all unionist weapons ‘will be put beyond use’. Without splitting hairs on the use of language one wonders what happened to the ‘D’ word so beloved by the media and unionist politicians in respect of the furore over the issue of IRA weapons. Has decommissioning gone out of business. 
There is speculation that the UDA has demanded the British Government pay them mega bucks for the privilege of giving back the weapons supplied by the British intelligence services in the first instance, a demand denied by the British Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward. But watch this space for future economic injections to loyalist areas, flagged up by Woodward in a subsequent radio interview.  
The release of UDA prisoners convicted of various acts of criminality, including murder, after their so-called ceasefire, is also alleged to be part of the deal, prompting outrage from some local politicians and Church leaders.
While the British wax lyrical about the courageous move on the weapons issue by their unionist comrades in arms, they have singularly failed to tell us when they will begin to decommission the formidable war machine they set up in the Six Counties, during the past 40 years or so. Weaponry that included the use of CS gas and CR gas which was used in Long Kesh against the internees, many of whom are still suffering the effects of this poison gas to the present day.
There is no doubt that the communities in the North especially in nationalist areas were the ‘guinea pigs’ for rubber bullets, plastic bullets, electronic spying devices, and all the psychological and physical armaments of a war that provided British generals with a blueprint for their future war ambitions.  
That the North has been Britain’s military training ground for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be disputed, except by those unionists who still prefer to be cannon fodder for a country that has always regarded them as somewhat inferior to the loyal population on the ‘mainland’.
If the truth be told, and it hasn’t to date, Irish unionists, like their nationalist counterparts have always been fair game for testing British weapons of war.   
The British Government has to demonstrate that its war in the North is over by removing the formidable weaponry put into the hands of the B-Specials, RUC, UDR and the thousands of legally held weapons mainly in the hands of unionists.
The UVF and the UDA may well put weapons beyond use but what of the rest? What of the weapons in the hands of the intelligence services, spies, PSNI and unionist politicians? Permitting this vast armoury to exist poses one of the greatest threats to peace in Ireland.   

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