16 September 2005

Loyalist warning

Irelandclick.com

Exclusive by Joe Nawaz

A new generation of violent, radical loyalists is being bred thanks to British Government policy towards the Protestant community, according to a local loyalist leader.

Speaking to South Belfast News after a weekend orgy of loyalist violence throughout the city, Colin Halliday, spokesperson for the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) also warned that the rumoured government review of the status of the UDA and UVF ceasefires could have “grave consequences” for peace in the North of Ireland.

“Our young people are very angry and they’re not listening to us any more,” he said. “They see how the IRA have benefited from years of violence and are starting to think that that is the way forward. There is a serious danger that we are looking at a situation where our youngsters will become a new generation full of bigotry and hatred.”

The former loyalist prisoner was also adamant that the UDA ceasefire was still intact and warned: “It would be a terrible mistake for [NI Secretary of State] Peter Hain not to recognise that. It would set us back years and the consequences could be terrible.”

The Northern Ireland Office’s “disdainful” treatment of the Protestant community will unleash a new generation of violent, radical paramilitaries, a senior South Belfast loyalist has warned.

Speaking exclusively to the South Belfast News in the aftermath of three days of intense loyalist violence, Colin Halliday, of the UDA linked Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG), warned loyalists were reaching “breaking point” .
“We are looking at a situation where our youngsters will become a new generation full of bigotry and hatred,” he said.

“You only have to look at what happened across the city on Saturday and Sunday to see which direction it is going.

“Luckily in South Belfast we managed to keep a slightly better lid on it than in other parts, but the anger and tension is still there. The young people just aren’t listening any more.”

Mr Halliday added that young loyalists were increasingly seeing violence as the only way forward.

“They look at the IRA and how much that they achieved through violence and then look at their own community.

“This weekend’s trouble has been months in the making – as a community we are feeling that we have been at best ignored and at worst victimised by the British Government.

“You only have to look at the heavy handed treatment of the security forces against our people. The pendulum has swung and it is the loyalist community who are suffering. Look at the exaggerated reaction to the IRA and their wee bit of paper last month, and then see how the NIO won’t even allow a small march in Whiterock – that is not even handed,” added the former prisoner.

Mr Halliday also warned than the rumoured negative ruling on the state of the UDA and UVF ceasefires could have “very worrying consequences”.

“I can categorically say that the UDA ceasefire is still intact and will remain so.
“It would be a terrible mistake for [NI Secretary of State] Peter Hain not to recognise that. It would set us back years and the consequences could be terrible.

“I don’t know who’s advising Hain but he needs to talk to the people here on the ground to gauge just what the feeling among ordinary Protestants is.
“We’ve been saying for a long time now that the British Government needs to engage in talks immediately with the UDA and others to understand the frustration of our community.

“Nobody wants violence like that we have seen recently, but the onus is on Mr Hain to address that and begin to listen to us so that we can work together to prevent a new generation of terrorism,” added Mr Halliday.


Journalist:: Joe Nawaz

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