IRA fought a political war while loyalists fought a sectarian one

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

TUV leader Jim Allister (Loughinisland Mark 2 but still not SF-IRA Mark 1, June 10) equivocates and obfuscates on the grotesque state sponsored murder of people in Loughinisland who were mercilessly slaughtered solely on the basis that they were presumed Catholic.

Mr Allister implies that both sides of the political/religious divide in NI were engaged in a tit-for-tat sectarian pogrom. This is not true. In response to IRA actions which threatened unionist hegemony in the North, loyalist death squads re-emerged and engaged in the random abduction, torture, and murder of innocent Catholics.

The daily rising body-count was used as the ultimate bargaining weapon in intimidating nationalists to force the IRA to stop its military campaign. The nightly trawling of nationalist areas by loyalist serial killers was not replicated by nationalists in unionist areas.

Whereas the IRA fought a political war, loyalist paramilitaries, hand in glove with state security forces, fought a sectarian war. To draw comparisons between loyalist death-squads like the Loughinisland killers or the Shankill Butchers with the IRA campaign is a grotesque insult to the victims and families of these sectarian killers.

Loyalist brigadiers were nothing more than blood thirsty rabble whose hatred of Catholics knew no bounds. These vile sectarian beasts displayed an astonishing readiness to murder innocent Catholics and because of this unhesitating willingness to kill, became esteemed in their own communities. Mr Allister downplays the fact that these loyalist murderers had the full backing of the British state as they engaged in the recreational killing of Catholics.

The proroguing of that bastion of bigotry, Stormont, the abolition of the ‘B’ Specials, the RUC the UDR, and the commissioning of the Patten Report were not imaginary. They were all part of the sectarian edifice called unionist Northern Ireland.

To give credence to his assertion that there was a similar sectarian agenda pursued by both republicans and loyalists perhaps Mr Allister might identify Catholic equivalents of Michael Stone, Torrens Knight, John White, Johnny Adair, Davy Payne, Lenny Murphy, Billy Wright and the repugnant and shameful protests at Holy Cross school.

Tom Cooper, Chair, Irish National Congress