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Loyalism for dummies
on 29 January 2004
Tracing the history of Loyalism through all it's colourful history, Taylor presents us with an idiot's guide to Loyalism. However, that does not rule out the possibility that the book holds value for readers already well acquainted with the history and personalities on both sides of the struggle. What it gives us is a more humanitarian spin on the actions that led to the formation of the Loyalist defence groupings around Shankill and Woodvale, groupings with would eventually evolve into ruthless death squads with "kill rates" on a par with Rerpublican counterparts.
Taylor delves into the characters that got the UVF, UDA, and even the Ulster Defence, the group with links to Paisley and the DUP, up and running. What he does not do is devote sufficient attention to the internal feuding that often accompanied the actions of both groups. Nor does he delve into the organised crime activities of Loyalist paramilitaries, activites that are dstroying the communities that their articulate apologists such as David Ervine represent.
Within Loyalism, there have always been class issues simmering beneath the surface as well. Gold Coast Unionists, and the Malone Road brigade (read the likes Trimble and Paisley), have always tried to distance themselves from the actions of the frontline warriors of the Shankill or Sandy Row, while cynically, and succesfully, stirring up hatred from the sidelines. These class and internal division issues are left unexplored, as Taylor seeks to present a picture of communities united by common interest, and of course the clichéd siege mentality that many communities live under.
Something that is being drip-fed to us these days, is the potential level of security force (and probably even political) collusion that went on. With shades of the state terrorism of the GAL in 1980s Spain, the revelations that security forces colluded in, or at best freely and knowingly allowed, import of arms, targeting of victims, and obviously, sectarian killings, such as that of Pat Finucane, collusion could in the future become a hot political potato for many in Ulster and in London. Taylor avoids such intricacies of the Loyalist killing missions, giving, as stated, a more humane approach to the whole thing. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The reader should just undertand that by reading and enjoying this book, they are only scratching the surface of the murky world inhabited by Loyalist paramilitaries.