Category: Archive

LVF says it will disband

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The announcement, in effect, concedes that the group could no longer function in the face of the UVF’s determination to close it down. It had already, in any case, disintegrated into wholesale drug-dealing and criminality.
The LVF tried to put a gloss of respectability on its disbandment by claiming it had decided to become defunct as a result of the IRA’s statement in July dumping arms, and its subsequent decommissioning of all its weapons.
But the likelihood is that LVF members will continue their involvement in racketeering and drugs, while individuals are still likely to persist in sporadic sectarian attacks on vulnerable Catholics.
The Irish government, however, said the LVF move was “an important and necessary step”. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, said all groups must decommission and pursue an exclusively political path.
In London, the Northern Secretary Peter Hain also welcomed the announcement but told the House of Commons that “words would have to be matched by deeds from all loyalist groups.”
“We call on other loyalist groups to follow suit and end all their violent and criminal activity,” said DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson.
Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said the announcement is the latest in a series of positive developments, coming on the heels of news that the UVF-LVF feud was over and a meeting between the UDA and the International Independent Commission on Decommissioning.
However, in a statement, Sinn Fein said: “Given the LVF’s history, nationalists and republicans will of course be cautious of anything being said or promised by them,” said Gerry Kelly.
“This grouping has a history of sectarian violence, murders and widespread drug dealing, so it is very much wait and see,” he added. Attention is now focusing on what the UVF will do with reasonable expectations that it may also end its campaign.
The LVF was formed in 1996 under Billy “King Rat” Wright who was subsequently murdered by the INLA in jail at Christmas 1997. Amongst the group’s victims were County Armagh solicitor, Rosemary Nelson, and journalist, Martin O’Hagan.
The group also murdered two friends, Damian Trainor and Philip Allen (a Catholic and a Protestant) who were gunned down in a County Armagh bar by an LVF gang which had, mistakenly, believed only Catholics met there.
The LVF’s first victim was Queen’s University graduate and father-of-one, Michael McGoldrick. His murder was carried out as a “birthday present” for Wright, according to a later court case.
The LVF also murdered teenager Bernadette Martin, shot dead in bed beside her Protestant boyfriend – a murder that was typically sectarian.
PUP leader, David Ervine, said he believes the UVF may also decide to announce an end to violence. “I predict that loyalist guns will go silent,” Ervine said. “I couldn’t possibly achieve that, but I know those who can and it is absolutely their determination to do so.”
The SDLP’s Alex Attwood greeted the LVF development with caution. “This is a welcome development as far as it goes, but everyone wants to see a lot more. There have been a number of false dawns around the LVF before. That is why people will be cautious.”

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese