I dont of course buy newspapers. That kinda thing only encourages “journalists” but I am indebted to a small restaurant in County Tyrone for the complimentary copy of ” The Sunday Life”. I love Norn Iron Sunday papers as they introduce us to many loyalists with interesting “nick names”. Sometimes the reason for the nickname is not immediately apparent. This cannot be said of “No Neck”. He does have a head and he does have shoulders but there is no visible support system between them.
” No Neck” is photographed on the front page of the newspaper along with three other men, soberly dressed marching to commemorate the centenary of the founding of the Ulster Volunteer Force in 1913. They are all named and identified as UVF men. One was a member of the Shankill Butchers Gang. The Organisers of the parade had claimed that it had nothing to do with the “modern” incarnation of the UVF.
But there are connexions. A minutes silence was held for UVF over the past hundred years…which seems ambiguous for an organistion which offically ceased to exist after the end of the First World War. More accurately it operated as a murder gang to 1922 and many of its members joined the RUC or B Specials, the pramilitary wing of the Orange State.
Repectable Unionists like to emphasise the ” For King and Country” aspect of its existence in 1914-1918 rather than the ” For God and Ulster” aspect of 1913 when it was formed to resist Irish Home Rule. It WAS a paramilitary organisation and the “re-formed” UVF founded in 1966 clearly modelled itself on the original paramilaries.
It would be naive of the organisers of Saturdays event not to expect as the The Sunday Life curiously puts it….that the modern UVF would not “latch on” to the event. I think it was a foregone conclusion that any event commemorating 1913 and organised by East Belfast community workers would not take place without “No Neck” and his friends showing up.
According to The Sunday Life, the UVF showing up on Saturday was a show of strength as they expect many of their leaders to be arrested soon…as Gary Haggerty a former member, now in witness protection is now fully de-briefed by Police and arrests are imminent.
You might expect me to be disappointed that the historic event marking the centenary of the UVF has been hi-jacked by the modern UVF. Actually I think that the presence of such people actually adds to, rather than undermines the AUTHENTICITY?
This is the problem with our so-called Decade of Centenaries. LetsGetAlongerists and Conflict Resolutionists are sanitising historic events to draw the sting from them. And to create a sense of “shared history”. Indeed the Battle of the Somme Centenary in 2016 will be the centre-piece of the Decade and the whole sham reconciliation process.
Some will accuse the modern UVF of hi-jacking Saturdays event to mark the centenary of the old UVF. This is of course nonsense. A series of centenaries over the next ten years have been hi-jacked by Conflict Resolutionists to further their agenda. They must be resisted.