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Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

The British Government pays the Irish Mafia to go away - it wont.


From a pure PR point of view, one can only stand back and admire the British way of doing things when it comes to news manipulation. The very cleverness, that is, of the spin and spy doctors at Whitehall – the British Raj’s highest seat of civil administration, - in the timing of their announcement of the payment of over £1,000,000 (yes that’s one million pounds sterling) to the drug dealing, Catholic killing Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The announcement by British government mandarins barely caused a ripple within a media machine which is usually voracious in its search for stories, especially where there might be a drugs, murder or sex angle. The UDA has all three angles in abundance. So well done to the British top brass for ensuring that the UDA payment announcement was sneaked through a historical crevice. In other words, the announcement came just as Chancellor Gordon Brown’s budget had been revealed and just as the make or break talks between the DUP and the British and Irish governments were reaching a climax.

Most Cic Saor readers will be aware that the UDA and I go back a long way. In fact, since my days as an assistant producer with BBC Belfast in 1988, this depressing and dangerous organisation has been an integral part of my journalistic raison d’etre. Readers of my book, A Very British Jihad, furthermore, will be aware that it contains a large number of extracts from Brian Nelson’s diary. Nelson, a former soldier in the British Army’s notoriously sectarian Black Watch regiment, was Britain’s top spy in the UDA. A lucrative post which he held, probably, throughout the length of our most recent Troubles, and it is the confluence of this latest payment to the UDA and the activities of its former spies for Britain which needs to be looked at more closely. The word “confluence”, essentially refers to the fact that the British Raj in Ireland has always given financial and military backing to this the largest, by far, of the pro-British terror groups which exist here. Indeed, right up until the end of the Troubles (please God), the British steadfastly refused to ban the UDA. This is the context in which this latest payment to the UDA must be seen.
Now to be absolutely accurate, it is a group called The Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG ) will receive the £1.2 million grant over a three year period and there was, in fact, a large amount of comment relating to the award in the northern six counties of Ulster where the British still have jurisdiction. However, the UPRG is just a name for the supposedly intellectual wing of the UDA and any media comment was devoid of any shock factor partly because it was distracted, as explained above, and partly because loyalist groups have never really been regarded as “the problem” in our country. As an illustration of this, imagine a scenario where a huge grant was announced for Rúraí Ó Bradaigh’s Republican Sinn Fein. Rúraí would reject the comparison, of course, but nevertheless, both the UDA and RSF are vehemently against the present peace process. Is there any doubt that a payment of even a shilling in old money by either the Irish or British government to RSF would lead to a collapse of the peace process and a hue and cry in the press across the country? No, the fact is that the media has always turned an almost criminal blind eye to the background reasons for loyalist violence; whilst the British state has always, secretly or otherwise, provided funds and backing to all loyalist paramilitary groups. It is just that in this Cloud Cuckoo land in which we live, we are not supposed to talk about it. Those that do talk about “it” are denounced as cranks and conspiracy theorists, which I suppose is slightly better than being locked up in some tower, or sent off to the salt mines in deepest Offaly.
Readers may wonder why I describe the Ulster Defence Association as the “Irish” Mafia. Well, first of all, members of the UDA regard themselves as being defenders of the Queen of England’s hegemony in Ireland. In other words, and by their own definition, they are pro-British northern Irishmen. As for the “Mafia” bit; no organisation in Ireland comes anywhere near the UDA in terms of behaving like a Mafia. For, apart from the grants, secret agents and arms dumps which the British government has bequeathed to the UDA (a legacy which affects the whole nation), the UDA survives by a combination of protection rackets, prostitution, intimidation and murder. The UDA is also a huge wholesale narcotics supplier for both northern and southern parts of Ireland. In fact, the only difference, in terms of criminal acts, between the UDA and the Mafia is that it still has a policy of killing Catholics if it can get away with it. It is only at this point that the respective philosophies of the Mafia and the UDA go there different ways. Again for the sake of journalist accuracy, it must also be acknowledged that Mafia cuisine and sartorial elegance rather makes a mockery of the average UDA member’s full Nor'n Irish breakfast, tattooed hands, combat jacket and sovereign rings.
However, there is one comparison where the UDA comes out a comfortable winner against the Mafia. Indeed, where the Mafia can only stand back and applaud, and that is when the Tony Sopranos of Brooklyn and Palermo scratch their their greased and thinning pates and wonder how the hell did such a criminal and morally bankrupt outfit like the UDA manage to pull a stunt that gets governments to throw money at them? Like, listen up guys - you kill people, sell them drugs, corrupt "d' yewt in d' hood" and then the state power gives you money to try and get you to go away and be quiet? Its gotta be a win win situation!
It is my certain knowledge that armani suited gentlemen wearing sunglasses in the dark are already winging their way to Belfast to find out how this scam operates and how they can get in on the act. It could only happen in Ireland. And do you know what? Nobody talks about it. Just like in the Mafia.
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Title: The British Government pays the Irish Mafia to go away - it wont.
Date posted: 25 Mar '07 - 00:06
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