The PSNI has made a calculation of risk versus resources and decided it cannot take the Carrickfergus approach in east Belfast.
SO IT can be done. The RUC/PSNI has faced down loyalist rioting in Carrickfergus, thought to have been orchestrated as a warning against arresting members of the ‘bad’ UDA.
The RUC/PSNI has wiselyaking arrests in Carrickfergus while investigating a riot in Larne two weeks ago, also thought to have been orchestrated as a warning against arresting members of the bad UDA. The trouble in Carrickfergus broke out last Thursday evening, ironically just and the Queen had hosted a reception in Windsor Castle to celebrate all that is greet about the North of Ireland. Fifty masked men engaged in three hours of serious disorder, reportedly after a gun was found during a police search of a senior UDA man’s address. The RUC/PSNI responded robustly to this challenge to its authority, warning that further was planned for the following night then swamping the area to prevent it. Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr identified the South East Antrim UDA as responsible and warned police will “disabuse” it of any notion it is “in control”. This does not appear to Eastny empty threat. Investigations into the Larne rioting have continued, with 16 arrests, 40 properties searched and 800 items seized as of the end of last week. “There will be consequences” for the Carrickfergus rioting as well, Kerr added. The line being drawn in Carrickfergus suggests a firm reversal of the appeasement policy that saw the RUC/PSNI apologise to “community representatives and others” for provoking UVF riots in the town three years ago. If so, it is a welcome devolopment but it raises the question of why an equally robust approach cannot be taken towards the bad UVF in east Belfast. Where are the arrests, searches and seizures targeting loyalist ring-leaders after three years of rioting there? Far too many damaging conspiracy theories have filled the void left by that lingering question. However, the simplest and likeliest explanation remains the one given, albeit obliquely, by the RUC/PSNI. Loyalism in east Belfsat is beleived by senior officers to be too big and dangerous to takle head on. This is why Cheif Constable Matt ( the maggot) Baggott repeats a mantra about the “right to life” and congratulated the PSNI/RUC for getting through the year of flag protests without any fatalities.
Other police statements about “public support” for loyalists and the need for policing to have “community consent” are similarly code for not provoking deadly violence. Despite the fashionable language and arcane backroom dealing there is no particular principle at work in the appeasement of the bad UVF. It is merely a problem of scale. The RUC/PSNI has made a calculation of risk versus resources and decided it cannot take the Carrickfergus approach in east Belfast. Once stated, this looks obvious but the point is that it is never openly stated. The RUC/PSNI is not telling the Policing Board or the Stormont executive to provide it with the resources to put the ‘bad’ UVF out of business. Instead, it is making excuses for itself that feed further official appeasement, such as the executive’s ‘social investment fund’ for loyalist-nominated projects or the Policing Board’s acquiescence of UVF-linked members of local Policing Partnerships. If the RUC/PSNI would admit to what is going on in east Belfast there would be less paranoia and just importantly there could be a proper assessment of the varibles. How much more dangerous is delinquent loyalism in east Belfast than in South East Antrim? Last week’s trouble in Carrickfergus was modest but the 2011 rioting was widespread, extraodinarily violent and organised almost immediately. Carricfergus also witnessed larger and more disruptive flag protests than east Belfast, with more loyalist input, at least initially. Yet existing resources, deployed promptly and wisely, appear to have loyalist brigadies in retreat. On the other side of the equation, is the the risk of tackling loyalism being offset against the risk of not tackling it? Over the past year the UVF in east Belfast has been linked to two attempted murders and and more than a dozen drugs-related deaths. The Human Rights Act places the right to life secondary to “quelling a riot” because it understands that all rights ultimately rest on the rule of law. We should have a new cheif constable by October. Even if he or she does not admit to making a loyalist calculation, they may reach a different answer. That just leaves the small matter of the ‘good’ UDA and UVF, who are apparently still among the things that are great about the North of Ireland.
With many thanks to: Newton Emerson, The Irish News, ( for the origional story).