Irish Blog Whacked

Sunday, January 13, 2013



    Friday-Thursday, 4-10 January, 2013

2.  Price's internment opposed at Derry courthouse
3.  Pan-unionism hailed as forum meets
4.  Students starved by new grants requirements
5.  Omagh case to go before European court
6.  Furore over hunger-strike art
7.  Feature: 'We are to be shot in the morning'
8.  Analysis: A flag solution will not relieve loyalist anxieties



 A deal between the 26 County Garda police and arch-loyalist Willie
 Frazer for a secret protest in Dublin has been revealed -- just hours
 after Frazer said he would not condemn an assassination attempt on the
 life of Six County Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

 Earlier this week, it was reported that a plan by Loyalist lobbyist
 Willie Frazer for a "sarcastic" protest outside the Dublin parliament on
 Saturday had been postponed.

 But on Thursday, Frazer told a Scottish radio prankster that he had made
 a secret arrangement with Gardai to hold the protest, apparently to
 avoid a counter-demonstration.

 Using the pseudonym 'Clarence Beeks' and claiming to be a "spin doctor"
 for Glasgow Rangers Football Club, the host of Glasgow Radio Online
 managed to convince Frazer of his support for the flags campaign -- and
 got him to reveal that Gardai had proposed a loyalist protest in Dublin
 tonight (Friday night) "to surprise everyone".

 "Keep it under your hat", he tells the caller -- but a recording of the
 interview was later placed online.

 Seven years ago, an inflammatory 'Love Ulster' sectarian march organised
 by Frazer through Dublin city centre led to the capital's worst riots in

 The Armagh man has returned to prominence in recent weeks as a
 spokesperson for the loyalist campaign against the recent decision by
 Belfast City Council to reduce the number of days the British flag flies
 above the building, bringing it into line with similar civic buildings.

 That council vote in early December has provoked outrage among unionist
 hardliners and right-wing British extremists.


 Frazer provoked further controversy on Thursday when he claimed that 99
 per cent of unionists would agree with his refusal to condemn anybody
 who shot Sinn Fein's Deputy First Minister.

 "If someone was to shoot Martin McGuinness, I would not condemn that
 man, but I would not ask him to do it," he said.

 Mr Frazer reportedly made the remarks while defending a comparison
 between loyalist paramilitary groups and the British Army and RUC.

 The hardline loyalist said it would be "unfortunate" if someone felt
 they had to shoot the Sinn Fein assembly member but claimed "99 percent
 of unionists would agree with him in not condemning it "if they were
 telling the truth".

 Sinn Fein last night described Mr Frazer as an "idiot".

 "Frazer is anti-peace process and  so are those he is leading in violent
 sectarian protests," a spokesman said. "It is important that unionist
 political leaders do not allow an idiot like Frazer to set their


 This week has already seen some of the worst violence of the loyalist

 The most intense riots took place on Monday evening, following what had
 been a relatively peaceful protest in Belfast city centre.

 Some 400 loyalist protesters descended on the city hall to coincide with
 the first full council meeting since the decision was made to reduce the
 flying of the Union Jack. As in December, a section of the crowd
 attempted to force their way into the council chamber, but were unable
 to do so.

 About half of the loyalists then made their way to east Belfast, where
 they again provoked and attacked nationalists from the Short Strand
 enclave. They set up barricades of burning pallets and bins on the lower
 Newtownards Road , then tried to hijack a Lidl lorry to block the busy
 Albertbridge Road.

 The PSNI used water cannon and fired three plastic bullets in an attempt
 to push protesters back. Violence also broke out in Dundonald, where
 petrol bombs and bricks were thrown at police.

 Serious rioting also broke out on Tuesday evening, when loyalists threw
 petrol bombs, fireworks and bottles, and burning barricades were also
 erected. However, the violence was not on the same scale as previous
 nights and calmed down after an hour.

 There was little doubt the violence had been planned, as some riots have
 been openly advertised in internet posts. The unionist paramilitary UVF
 has been accused of organising the violence, as well as using them to
 recruit youths.

 Tuesday was the sixth night of trouble before the Union Flag was
 returned to Belfast City Hall on Wednesday -- to mark the birthday of
 'Duchess of Cambridge' Kate Middleton, the wife of England's Prince

 The brief return of the flag for one of the 17 'designated days' was
 peaceful, but otherwise ignored by loyalists.  However, it produced a
 demand by Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt for Middleton's birthday
 to be marked by other civic buildings in Belfast as well.


 This (Friday) evening, the flags protestors appear to be planning a
 return to the widespread road blocks which marked the start of their
 campaign in December.

 Loyalists have vowed to block dozens of roads in Belfast and towns and
 villages across the north in an action dubbed 'Operation Standstill'.

 Traffic is expected to grind to a halt from 6pm during the co-ordinated
 protests, timed again to coincide with the Friday evening rush-hour and
 with the potential to cause mayhem for commuters leaving Belfast.

 In addition to Belfast, protests  are planned for towns including Larne,
 Ballynahinch, Portadown, Magherafelt and as far away as Liverpool,
 Glasgow -- and Dublin.

 Sinn Fein Dublin South West TD Sean Crowe called on Dublin people not to
 engage with or be provoked by loyalist protestors, who are understood to
 be planning a demonstration at the Dail.

 He warned that the demonstrations were being orchestrated by unionist
 paramilitaries and supported by elements of the British extreme right
 such as the BNP.

 "What we have witnessed is anti-Catholic and anti-Peace Process elements
 rioting on the streets, attacking property, people in the nationalist
 community, workers and the PSNI. This campaign of sectarian intimidation
 and violence must be brought to an immediate end.

 "Belfast is a shared city. The rights and identities of all sections of
 the community there must be fully protected and respected. This can only
 be done on the basis of equality, mutual respect and parity of esteem,
 as envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement.

 "While accepting everybody's right to peaceful protest I would call on
 Mr Frazer and his associates to reconsider their plans. They should
 cancel this protest and all other protests which have been the cause of
 violence in recent weeks.

 "This provocative publicity stunt is designed to ratchet up tension and
 trouble in Dublin.

 "I am calling on all Dublin people and others in the capital not engage
 with or be provoked by these protestors."


>>>>>> Price's internment opposed at Derry courthouse

 Legal proceedings against Marian Price were adjourned on Wednesday at
 Derry's Magistrate's Court after District Judge, Mr Barney McElholm said
 he would have to take advice from medical professionals regarding the
 republican prisoner's fitness to appear.

 Price was interned almost two years ago and is unfit to stand trial
 after being held in isolation for over a year at Maghaberry jail.

 Price is currently being held in a secure hospital unit after being
 transferred there via Hydebank Prison.

 Addressing the court, Judge McElholm revealed he was planning to convene
 hearings in the hospital unit itself.

 "The test here is of convenience and suitability, Those are issues for
 the doctors. I believe a secure hospital would be appropriate to hold
 the preliminary enquiry if necessary."

 Her lawyer Peter Corrigan told Mr McElholm that it would be "wrong to
 hold a preliminary inquiry hearing in a pseudo court situation in
 hospital" and he said the charge which his client denied should be

 "The deterioration in her physical and mental health has been
 exacerbated by the prosecution of the charge against her," he said.

 But a prosecution lawyer told the court that if "all the appropriate
 measures" in relation to transportation and security were in place,
 there was no reason why the hearing could not proceed.

 Fifty eight year old Price, who has suffered both physical and
 psychiatric ill health during her incarceration, faces charges in
 connection with holding a piece of paper for a masked 'Real IRA'
 spokesperson at a republican rally at the City Cemetery in April 2011.

 Following her release on bail, the then British Direct Ruler justified
 her continued incarceration by declaring he had revoked a prison release
 licence dating from 1980. Her supporters have said a royal pardon,
 issued to her following her famous hunger strike in 1980, had rendered
 that argument invalid.

 Judge McElholm adjourned his decision until Wednesday of next week.

 Outside the court, miscarriage of justice victim Gerry Conlon spoke out
 in support of her.

 Guildford Four member Gerry Conlon, who spent years in jail after being
 falsely convicted of a bombing in England, said keeping her in prison
 was an abuse of process.

 Outside court he said: "To think that a process of law is being usurped
 by politicians in order to hold a woman, without her lawyers being able
 to see the accusations against her, is an abuse of justice, it is a
 human rights issue.

 "If there is evidence to say someone has committed a crime it should be
 placed before the court, their lawyer should have access to it and the
 accusations should be made open and public.

 "Justice has to be fair, open and transparent and that it is why I am
 here. It is not fair, it is not open and it is certainly not

 A video of the rally at Derry's magistrate's court is available
 online at


>>>>>> Pan-unionism hailed as forum meets

 Unionist political leaders have said they are willing to hold talks with
 loyalist murder gangs about increasingly violent flag protests.

 The paramilitary UVF in east Belfast have been blamed by the PSNI for
 orchestrating riots in recent weeks.

 The pledge came after the first meeting of the 'Unionist Forum' at
 Stormont this week.  The body is said to be an attempt by the two
 largest unionist parties, the DUP and UUP, to discuss fears that
 nationalists are making inroads against British rule and a resulting
 unionist 'identity crisis'.

 Senior figures within the UVF in east Belfast have been blamed by police
 for "orchestrating" violent clashes in recent weeks.

 The inaugural meeting on Thursday was attended by the main unionist
 parties -- as well as leading loyalists including south Belfast UDA
 leader Jackie McDonald and east Belfast's Jimmy Birch.

 Senior members of the Progressive Unionist Party, the political wing of
 the UVF, were also in attendance. However, the Ulster People's Forum,
 which has organised a number of the flag protests, boycotted the

 Mr Robinson said the gathering was  the most "representative group
 within the unionist community to meet probably in half a century". The
 DUP leader said he was willing to meet those behind the recent violence.

 "We will talk to anyone who wants to talk to us about how we can move
 forward in an exclusively peaceful and democratic manner -- that's the
 way forward for Northern Ireland and that's the basis upon which we
 would be talking," he said.

 Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said loyalists feel they have been
 left out of the political process, and were still angered by Sinn Fein's
 inclusion in power-sharing at the Stormont Assembly.

 In a break with traditional UUP policy, he dismissed media concerns
 about direct engagement with loyalist paramilitaries.

 "People with that sort of past look at what's up here [parliament
 buildings], look at who goes into that chamber to represent
 republicanism and they see frankly a hypocrisy and they think one side
 is being picked on while the other's being celebrated," he said.

 The leadership of the Orange Order also attended, and praised the event
 as a "coalescing of the wider pro-union family".

 However, Sinn Fein Upper Bann assembly member John O'Dowd said the
 Unionist Forum would not solve any problems.

 "That can only come when representatives from the whole community sit
 down together. There needs to be an open discussion on how people's
 Irishness and Britishness can be respected and valued," he said.

 "Equality, parity of esteem and mutual respect needs to be at the core
 of any move forward on identity and symbols.

 "Unionism needs to face the reality that the north has changed and will
 continue to change. Any attempts to hark back to a one-sided past will
 only sow more confusion among unionists and loyalists."

 Stewart Dickson of the moderate Alliance Party, said politicians,
 including unionists, should work for everyone, not just one section of
 the community.

 "Somebody should remind Peter Robinson that he is the first minister for
 Northern Ireland and not just the first minister of unionism.

 "Mike Nesbitt by co-chairing this group must admit that he has given up
 on his attempt to make the UUP appeal to all people and not just

 "This tribal form of politics will only further cement divisions and
 will not help deliver a shared future."


>>>>>> Students starved by new grants requirements

 Hundreds of Irish students have been forced to accept free food boxes
 because they cannot afford to eat, it has emerged.

 An estimated 150 students at Athlone Institute of Technology in the
 midlands have had to rely on charity food after their grant payments
 were delayed. Students in Galway have also been provided with food

 A government failure to pay student grants has been blamed for chronic
 poverty among students across the 26 Counties. Over 10,000 students are
 believed to be still waiting on their first grant payment of the year
 from the centralised Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) body.

 Lengthy and bureacratic new application procedures have apparently been
 designed with the goal of reducing the number of students availing of
 grant entitlements.

 SUSI has insisted any decision to stop grants has been a result of the
 students' failure to provide the right documentation.


 The Student Union President at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology said
 students had been gong hungry.

 "They were basically saying that they had come in to college that
 morning at 8.30am after a light breakfast or a bowl of cereal at home
 and literally did not have anything to eat until maybe 6pm or 7pm that
 evening because they financially just couldn't afford it," said Joe

 He said several local food outlets had helped to supply produce for the
 boxes. He also warned that some students may receive no grant payment
 before the end of the academic year.

 "There's a certain degree of progress but it's almost too late in the
 day to save the situation this year," he said.

 Meanwhile, President of NUI Galway Students' Union Paul Curley said
 students at the university had been seeking support from St Vincent de
 Paul services in the city.

 "By definition of qualifying for financial support, it means that no
 other support is available," he said. "Their families don't have the
 means to support them and part time jobs are few and far between. It
 really is at crisis point and it will result in more students dropping
 out of college."


 The student grant system has been one of the chief targets for cuts by
 the Labour/Fine Gael government as part of the EU-mandated national
 austerity drive.

 A battery of cutbacks were announced last month in the government's
 annual budget, and are now beginning to be implemented.

 Among the cuts to be introduced in the last few days are the removal of
 health services, nursing and disability services from tens of thousands
 needing care across the country.  It was announced that from this week,
 up to 40,000 medical cards will be cancelled, and that cuts to services
 for the disabled and older people will be up to four times that
 previously envisaged.

 Meanwhile, emigration remains at so-called 'famine levels' of around 200
 per day, while scandals over profound inequality in the 26 County state
 have continued.

 In a survey, more than 40 per cent of charities have admitted that their
 chief executives appropriate over 100,000 euro ($132,000) for themselves
 in salary payments every year.

 It was also confirmed that the retiring chief executive of the Irish
 Medical Organisation (IMO), which represents Irish doctors and
 consultants, is to receive an extraordinary lump sum payment in excess
 of 1.5 million euro, as well as a multi-million-euro pension fund.


 In other news, salaries for new nurses and midwives have been cut by 20%
 relative to their peers.

 Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald said pay inequity in healthcare was
 "rife", and that the Labour Party had now abandoned any notion of equal
 pay for equal work.

 "Those at the top of the service continue to be paid substantially more
 than European counterparts, including hospital consultants and senior
 administrators," she said.

 "If the HSE or any other government department or agency are serious
 about reducing pay and pension expenditure, significant savings can be
 found by addressing excessive pay at the top. Instead the Tanaiste has
 chosen to protect high rollers and target those at the very bottom of
 the public sector pay grades.

 "To be blunt it is incomprehensible that a Labour party leader would not
 only deepen pay inequity in the public sector, but would also robustly
 defend such a decision."


>>>>>> Omagh case to go before European court

 Two senior republicans are seeking to go before the European Court of
 Human Rights in a bid to overturn a ruling that they were liable for the
 Omagh bombing.

 Lawyers for Michael McKevitt and Liam Campbell have based the challenge
 on their inability to cross-examine an FBI spy whose evidence was
 central to the case against them.

 They are also contesting the decision to allow hearsay evidence from
 David Rupert in the case.

 The disclosure comes as two other men originally held responsible, Colm
 Murphy and Seamus Daly, prepare to face a retrial at the High Court in

 No-one has been convicted of the bomb attack that devastated the County
 Tyrone market town in August 1998.

 It subsequently emerged that the device was tracked from its source to
 its destination by British military intelligence and RUC police Special
 Branch without being intercepted.

 Two telephoned warnings failed to clear the area around the vehicle
 which carried the bomb, resulting in the greatest single loss of life
 throughout the conflict.

 McKevitt, Campbell, Murphy and Daly were all held liable for the bombing
 in a civil ruling in 2009.

 Mr Justice Morgan, who is now the North's 'Lord Chief Justice', ordered
 them to pay 1.6 million pounds in compensation.

 The Court of Appeal subsequently upheld Murphy and Daly's challenges to
 the verdict and ordered them to face a retrial which gets underway next

 However, McKevitt and Campbell failed to overturn the rulings against

 A further petition to the Supreme Court in London was also rejected,
 leaving them with one final option of seeking to go to Europe.

 Legal papers prepared on their behalf focus on the role and credibility
 of Rupert, an American trucking boss-turned FBI spy who infiltrated the
 'Real IRA' in return for cash.

 He is on a witness protection programme after testifying for the
 prosecution at the criminal trial of Mr McKevitt in Dublin in 2000.

 Although Rupert was forbidden from attending the original civil action,
 emails between the spy and his handlers were submitted as evidence.

 The lawyer representing McKevitt and Campbell have objected to that

 Kevin Winters confirmed: "Having exhausted all domestic court processes
 both of my clients have lodged applications with the European Court of
 Human Rights.

 "The key areas that the court will be asked to look at is the reliance
 on the hearsay evidence of David Rupert, and the inability to
 cross-examine him about his claims."

 Papers lodged on behalf of the pair will undergo a preliminary
 assessment of the points raised.

 It is expected that the European Court of Human Rights will make a
 provisional ruling on the merits of each application by July.


>>>>>> Furore over hunger-strike art

 A row has erupted in the Irish midlands over an artwork featuring
 messages written by republican hunger strikers in Long Kesh Prison.

 Longford artist Shane Cullen has defended his work, which is featured in
 Athlone's new Luan Gallery, pointing out that its content as a matter of
 historical record.

 He said the prisoners' writings allowed the public an insight into

 The large piece features messages which were written on cigarette papers
 and smuggled to and from prisoners during the 1981 Hunger Strike in
 which ten republican prisoners died.

 Fine Gael councillor Mark Cooney, son of former justice minister Paddy
 Cooney, tabled a motion at Monday night's town council meeting seeking
 the artwork's removal.

 Mr Cooney had argued that the installation was offensive to members of
 the 26 County police, prison guards, and others affected by the conflict
 in the North.

 Sinn Fein representative, Paul Hogan, dismissed Mr Cooney's motion as

 During the meeting, it was revealed that around 1,200 people had visited
 the gallery since it opened less than two months ago, and that only
 three had recorded objections to the artwork.

 A polarisation of political opinion in the midlands has long put
 republicans into sharp conflict with right-wing elements.

 The motion was backed by Mark Cooney's father, Paddy, who served as a
 highly controversial 26-County justice minister between 1973 and 1977.

 Cooney is notorious for his links to the Garda 'Heavy Gang', which
 violently suppressed Irish republicanism in the 70s. He also once
 ordered the coffin of hunger strike victim Frank Stagg to be covered in
 concrete, to prevent his burial in a republican plot.

 Athlone Sinn Fein Councillor Paul Hogan branded the motion a narrow
 minded attack on Irish art and an attempt to censor history.

 He said Shane Cullen is a highly respected artist who has exhibited

 "This work has been exhibited in many places including London," he said,
 and pointed out that Cullen's best known work is a piece on the Good
 Friday peace Agreement.

 "Councillor Cooney is asking this council to censor a piece based on the
 tragic events in the prisons in the North in the 1980s, events that were
 milestones in Irish history.

 "The first person to raise this issue was none other than former
 Minister Paddy Cooney, a member of a government in the 1970s notorious
 for political censorship of the media.

 "Facing up to the legacy of our country's history is a responsibility we
 all share, no matter how uncomfortable some aspects may be for some
 people. Censoring history is never the way forward."


>>>>>> Feature: 'We are to be shot in the morning'

 Three teens were among 7 IRA 'irregulars' executed in the civil war 90
 years ago in Kildare. A historical article by Robert Doyle (for

 'We are to be shot in the morning, 19th December at 8.15...We are dying
 happy anyway, so good-bye old Kildare.' -- Paddy Bagnall, from Hare Park
 Prison, Curragh Camp, December 18, 1922

 With much of the attention regarding the struggle for Irish independence
 being on the upcoming centenary of the 1916 Rising, events in County
 Kildare 90 years ago this past December bring into sharp focus the tragedy of
 the subsequent Civil War.

 Men and women who had fought side by side against British rule, turned
 their vitriol and their weapons on each other in a bitter conflict that
 began with the occupation of the Four Courts in the summer of 1922 by
 forces opposed the signing and ratification of an Anglo-Irish Treaty.

 The outbreak of the Civil War forced pro and anti-treaty supporters to
 choose sides. Supporters of the treaty came to be known as 'pro-Treaty'
 or Free State Army, legally the National Army. The objectors called
 themselves "Republicans," but were more commonly known by the Free State
 government as "Irregulars."

 Although most of the fighting took place in Dublin and around Munster,
 County Kildare was no different in terms of the bitter divides. The
 occupation of the Curragh Camp by the Free State Army after British
 withdrawal made operations very difficult for the small column of
 Irregulars who operated in the vicinity of Kildare town.

 Eamonn O'Modhrain from Ballysax, who had commanded the 6th Battalion of
 the IRA's Carlow Brigade (South Kildare/West Wicklow) during the War of
 Independence, objected strongly to the signing of the Treaty and was
 immediately arrested and imprisoned for much of the year-long conflict.
 However, many of his former command took up arms against the Free State
 and operated a guerrilla- style war around Kildare Town, concentrating
 their efforts on disrupting the vital railway network in the area.

 In late 1922, The Leinster Leader reported that a column of Irregulars
 were operating in the vicinity of Kildare, derailing or stealing train
 engines, which would subsequently be used as an obstruction, blocking
 the line. It was also reported that on November 25th, this column took
 part in an ambush of Free State troops, audaciously close to the Curragh

 On December 13th, 10 men, allegedly the same column, were surprised at a
 farmhouse beside Moore's Bridge (close to the Curragh Racecourse) by
 Free State troops. Having been found in possession of rifles, a quantity
 of ammunition and other supplies, the men were arrested and brought the
 short distance to the Curragh Camp. During the arrest, one of the
 captured, Thomas Behan, was killed although the cause of his death
 remains disputed to this day.

 In the following days, seven of the men were tried before a military
 court and found guilty of being in possession of arms without authority.
 Unfortunately for the convicted, the Free State government had, only
 weeks earlier, decreed that such an offence was punishable by death. The
 executions were duly carried out by firing squad on the morning of
 December 19th at the Military Detention Barracks. Although the Free
 State sanctioned 77 official executions of anti-Treaty prisoners during
 the war, this combined execution of seven men was the largest carried
 out -- a tragic statistic in County Kildare's history.

 The day before their deaths, the seven men were allowed to write letters
 to their family and loved ones. Each letter is a tragic but very
 poignant memorial to the men, composed as they each came to terms with
 their fate. Typed copies of some of the letters were sent to their
 ex-commander, Eamonn O'Modhrain.

 Nineteen-year-old Paddy Bagnall wrote to his uncle that he and his
 comrades were "all to go West together ... but it is all for the best, and
 I hope it sets old Ireland free." Bagnall finishes a remarkably mature
 letter for one so young by stating that he was dying happy and bids
 "good-bye old Kildare."

 Paddy Nolan, 34, penned a heartbreaking final letter to his mother and
 father. He hoped that they would bear his death with "the Courage of an
 Irish Father & Mother." He tried to ease his mother's worry by writing
 that the chaplain in the Curragh, Father Donnelly, had told him that he
 would go straight to heaven.

 However, the saddest words are often the simplest, and Nolan signed off
 by telling his family that he "had a few pounds in his suit case" and
 they could have them and anything else in the house belonging to him. A
 shorter letter to his younger brothers and sisters asks that they
 remember him and his comrades on Christmas morning, only a few weeks
 away. He also asks that they be good children and always obey their

 The other letters written by the men on the eve of their deaths are
 similar in composition and sentiment. Each is also a reminder of the
 conflict that scarred the fledgling Irish nation during its progression
 from a British colony into a sovereign country.

 The men were buried in the grounds of the Detention Barracks, but their
 remains were later exhumed and lay in state in the courthouse in Kildare
 Town before being reinterred in Kildare's Grey Abbey Cemetery, in 1924.
 A gravestone was subsequently erected over their collective grave and a
 monument erected in the Market Square, in Kildare town.

 The seven executed were Stephen White, 18, Abbey Street, Kildare; Joseph
 Johnston, 18, Station Road, Kildare; Patrick Mangan, 22, Fair Green,
 Kildare; Patrick Nolan, 34, Rathbride, Kildare; Bryan Moore, 37,
 Rathbride, Kildare (leader of the column); James O'Connor, 24, Bansha,
 County Tipperary; and Patrick Bagnall, 19, Fair Green, Kildare.


>>>>>> Analysis: A flag solution will not relieve loyalist anxieties

 By Brian Feeney (for Irish News)

 On Monday, Matt Baggott surfaced briefly to say the UVF are involved in
 fomenting rioting in east Belfast.

 "I am concerned that senior members of the UVF in east Belfast - as
 individuals - have been increasingly orchestrating some of this
 violence. That is utterly unacceptable and is being done for their own
 selfish motives," he said.

 Now what would those motives be? We know the boss in east Belfast
 paddles his own canoe and that in the summer of 2011 he organised
 rioting in much the same areas as are now suffering. The trouble then
 spread to the usual places - Portadown, Ballyclare, Larne, Ballymena. At
 that time the outbreak was regarded as a pretty obvious demand for money
 which was duly supplied to 'the community'. What could it be about this
 time since it's difficult to see where more money could be shovelled
 into east Belfast 'community projects', which would be dominated by -
 guess who?

 How about this? In 2009 Gary Haggarty was arrested by the Historical
 Enquiries Team (HET) on foot of investigations by Nuala O'Loan some
 years before. He quickly confessed his senior role in the UVF and became
 what is known under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (Socpa)
 as an 'assisting offender'. That's what they call a supergrass now.
 Since then he was interrogated by HET, an interrogation which produced,
 wait for it, an extraordinary 30,000 pages of evidence and 760 interview

 Forty-year-old Haggarty, a self-confessed senior UVF man - some say he
 was number one in south-east Antrim - has apparently named every senior
 UVF man in Belfast in the past 20 years and given chapter and verse of
 murder, robbery, extortion and collusion with RUC Special Branch.
 Despite being charged with nine serious offences, including murder, on
 November 22. Haggarty was granted bail under strict conditions and
 whisked to a safe house, no doubt in England. In other words the deal is
 done. Haggarty's case is due to come up this year. It has potentially
 explosive repercussions for the UVF.

 Ten days after Haggarty's bail, individual UVF members were out on the
 streets of Belfast 'orchestrating violence' at the city hall. The
 prospect of Haggarty's evidence is giving the UVF the heebie-jeebies.
 Whereas 30 years ago supergrasses could receive immunity for testifying
 against their associates, under Socpa they cannot. They are sentenced
 and then can have their sentence reduced to as little as three years but
 only if they testify against their accomplices. When Haggarty's case
 comes up, he must confess everything he knows or else he goes down for
 the full sentence. If he does, what will the DPP do? Ignore his
 testimony? Prosecute senior UVF men named? What do you think?

 What these very destabilising circumstances in the UVF mean is that even
 if some solution is found for the flag protests, disturbances will not
 end in loyalist districts which the UVF control. No wonder graffiti
 round the UVF Mount Vernon stronghold says, "HET forget the past".

 When people say the commotion in unionism is about more than flags
 they're right. The consternation in the UVF is the result of the failure
 of northern politicians to produce an acceptable process for resolving
 the past. One former proconsul ran away from the best solution proposed
 so far, the Eames-Bradley report. Since then nothing has been done or is
 likely to be done under our proconsul who has appeared completely out of
 her depth in the last month.

 Until there is a coherent proposal to satisfy victims, relatives and
 survivors of past violence, piecemeal and random prosecutions will
 continue to have the potential for destabilising the whole political
 process here. UVF members out on the streets of east Belfast and
 elsewhere are giving notice that they can destroy any attempt by
 Stormont politicians to create a pacified society here.

 Pretending the disturbances are about flags or Mike Nesbitt's truly
 pathetic 'chipping away at Britishness' ignores the anxiety gnawing away
 within loyalism that unpredictable investigations by the HET threaten
 the UVF more than republicans and worse, that, when the HET's money runs
 out in a couple of years, anyone not already prosecuted will go scot
 free. There has to be a better way