Not to barrage you on a topic many may find boring, but one quick bit slipped my mind when cataloging unionism’s totally blatant hypocrisy on paramilitary activity. The latest hilarity is the antics of First Minister for Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson of the Democratic Unionist Party;
The Belfast Telegraph elucidates;
Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson has joined calls for independent monitoring of the IRA and urged the British Government to suspend the Assembly and convene urgent political talks.
This is brilliant. The elected First Minister for Northern Ireland wants the British government to suspend his very office (i.e his job for his constituents) due to the fact he fears a party aligned with paramilitaries is in government.
The best part about it? This is Peter Robinson.
— Jos. S. Laughon (@el_leprechauno) September 3, 2015
Yes, that’s right. That above is Peter Robinson, convicted gun running, riot starting paramilitary member turned politician, who doesn’t seem to mind his fellow lads over at the Ulster Defence Association*, an organization best known for butchering hundreds of civilians, often Protestants who crossed them.
Following a decade and a half of political and military strife the governments of Ireland and Britain… signed an international treaty to normalise relations between both states and facilitate progress towards a peaceful political settlement in the north-east.
This attempt by both governments to lay the groundwork for eventual peace caused outrage amongst many in the local British Unionist population which responded with a year-long series of political and violent protests, and a renewed campaign of murder by the British terror gangs.
On the 10th of November 1986 many of these forces of opposition came together in the Ulster Hall in Belfast where 3000 delegates attended a by-invite-only meeting. Amongst those organising the gathering were the leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party including the Reverend Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Reverend Ivan Foster (who were all members or clergymen of Paisley’s self-styled Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster)…Peter Robinson had earlier in the year established his militant credentials when on the 7th of August 1986 he had led 500 members of the Third Force in an invasion of the small Irish village of Clontibret in County Monaghan, across the border. During the incursion, which terrified the inhabitants, the local station of the Gardaí (the unarmed, Irish civilian police service) was attacked, two Gardaí were surrounded and beaten, and a military parade was held on the main street. The invasion was only repulsed when Garda reinforcements arrived, the gangs fleeing back across the border during which a number of shots were fired. These actions made Robinson a hero in Unionist circles and he remained a central figure in militant Unionism in the years that were to follow.
The Ulster Resistance quickly subsumed other previous groupings, including the Third Force and Ulster Clubs, forming itself into nine battalions, and established informal links with the existing British terrorist organisations in Ireland, principally the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the larger Ulster Defence Association or UDA (this grouping, which also used the title of the Ulster Freedom Fighters or UFF , was a legal body under British law and was able to organise, recruit, train and finance itself both in “Northern Ireland” and Britain. Despite the demands of the international community the British government did not ban the faction until August 1992, after some 22 years of terrorist activities).
To sum it up, Robinson was deeply involved in the escalation of violent loyalist politics, which spurred paramilitary activity in the North and helped create violent paramilitary gangs which exist and operate to this day. This is the same politician who now says the Assembly has been compromised by the involvement of a political party tied to a disarmed, no longer functional paramilitary organization, whose disarmed, peaceful status has been verified by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Independent Monitoring Commission, meanwhile the loyalist groups he had a had in worsening still operate as armed groups. Absolutely brilliant.
*Oh another lovely piece of history I forgot; when Gusty Spence was approached about helping form the UDA, guess who showed up to his house to convince him? An Ulster Unionist MP. Not a member, not some guy who voted for them now and then. A member of parliament. This is the same party who left the executive because they allegedly dislike paramilitary politics. Thomas Hennessey in his book, Northern Ireland: The Origin of the Troubles outines this in pages 54 to 55.
ASF has a great many posts on the Troubles and the recent crisis but these two stand out;