25 May 2006 Edition
The Mitchel McLaughlin Column - Unionist political principles
David Ervine, who has openly admitted that he speaks for the UVF, an organisation not on ceasefire, involved in internecine murder, racism and a litany of murderous attacks on the nationalist community, can align himself with whichever party he chooses. But it's a bit rich of Ulster Unionists having collapsed the political institutions of the Good Friday Agreement by refusing to share power with Sinn Féin, to now embrace the political leadership of the UVF.
As hypocritical as Empey's cuddling up to the UVF to secure an extra Executive position is the apoplectic reaction of Ian Paisley's DUP. This is the same Ian Paisley famously pictured inspecting masked, cudgel wielding UDA members during the Ulster Workers' Strike in 1974, the founder of the Third Force and Protestant Volunteers, and the man who assembled hundreds of Unionists waving firearms certificates on the side of a mountain.
His last foray into raising armed groups was Ulster Resistance, who in collaboration with the UVF and UDA and assisted by MI6, imported thousands of automatic weapons, grenades and explosives into the North resulting in the indiscriminate sectarian murder of hundreds of Catholics.
Once formed, Paisley in true Pontius Pilot style subsequently distanced himself from these organisations. Where are the Ulster Resistance weapons Mr. Paisley?
In view of the UUP in the past week, demonstrating that its preconditions and tantrums were nothing more than attempts to frustrate the implementation of the Agreement, the two governments must not repeat their mistakes by now indulging the sanctimonious rantings of the DUP.
Paisley's claim that he will not talk to Reg Empey because of his open collaboration with David Ervine is just another attempt to postpone inevitable political change. He is now adopting the stalling tactics used by David Trimble.
If they continue to pander to this type of pathetic stalling from unionists, the two governments are in danger of presiding over the unravelling of the Agreement that the people of Ireland overwhelmingly endorsed.
Reg Empey's decision last week was only the overt expression of what many knew to be the covert position of mainstream unionist parties throughout the conflict. There have been many documented instances of close relationships between prominent unionist politicians and unionist paramilitary figures. The most high profile of these of course were the appearance of the DUP‚s Willie Mc Crea and Sammy Wilson on a platform in support of Billy (King Rat)‚ Wright. And of course we had the famous arrest of Peter Robinson accompanied, according to David Ervine, by six very senior UVF members in Clontibret.
Now that the subterfuge of the UUP and DUP has been laid bare, it is incumbent on both governments to state unambiguously that they will indulge no more time wasting. If Unionists persist in frustrating attempts to restore the institutions of the Agreement, it must be made clear that the alternative will be the full and speedy joint implementation of all other aspects of the Agreement by both governments.