Socialist Worker

Loyalists' bloody battle

Issue No. 1711

An outbreak of Loyalist in-fighting in Northern Ireland hit the headlines this week as two Loyalists were killed and British troops were returned to the streets.

Whatever the particular motives for the violence, there is a battle raging at the heart of Loyalism. Some Loyalist paramilitaries are totally opposed to the peace process. They want to return to the days when Loyalist death squads inflicted a reign of terror on Catholics.

Over the last week such Loyalists have not only been killing each other. There have also been attacks on Catholic and mixed families in Catholic areas near the Loyalist Shankill Road. But other Loyalists support the peace process. Some, like the politician Billy Hutchinson, have begun, albeit in contradictory ways, to raise the question of class politics.

The problem is that the pro-agreement Loyalists have not broken from their pasts and still uphold sectarian Loyalist beliefs. The Tories and right wing press, however, have seized on the violence to attack the prisoner release scheme, which is a central part of the Good Friday peace agreement.

Some of the Loyalist prisoners released, like Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair, are psychopathic killers. But most of the prisoners were jailed as a result of the last 30 years of war in Northern Ireland.

The Tories only want peace on terms that will suit the Unionist politicians. They do not care if this scuppers the whole peace agreement and brings more violence to the streets.

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What We Think
Sat 26 Aug 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1711
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