Begin Talks Immediately

Former Blanket columnist Dr John Coulter continues his theme of Britain and the South needing to talk to what he terms dissident republicans to prevent a bloodbath. This latest piece is from his Ireland Eye column in the British Labour Party's Tribune magazine from 16 November 2010

Dublin and London must begin immediate talks with dissidents otherwise it will be the broad republican family which will be de-stabilised, not the peace process.

The immediate concern is to keep a lid on dissident loyalists who are looking any excuse to hit back at nationalists of any kind in the wake of prison officer David Black’s murder. Mainstream loyalism Belfast’s leadership has already embarked on a Dad’s Army-style ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic’ campaign to calm down the militants in their own ranks and members of other dissident loyalist death squads.

Hardliners from the renegade Loyalist Volunteer Force were already meeting in Mid Ulster to plan retaliation, according to well-placed loyalist sources. The source said that key Belfast loyalists were also visiting Mid Ulster to “try and calm things down because the LVF was chomping at the bit to hit back”.

The source also claimed that while top of the LVF hit list were leading Co Armagh dissident republicans, the hot-headed Protestants would adopt the naked sectarian view – any Catholic will do.

The LVF was formed as a breakaway group in the mid 1990s by the Ulster Volunteer Force’s Mid Ulster commander Billy ‘King Rat’ Wright. He had disagreed with the UVF’s 1994 ceasefire and the socialist direction of its political wing, the Progressive Unionist Party.

Wright was shot dead inside the Maze jail in December 1997 by INLA inmates. After his death, the LVF largely descended into organized crime, especially drugs. Before forming the LVF, Wright had built his Mid Ulster UVF unit into one of the most ruthless of all the loyalist killer gangs during the Troubles.

My source said:

It is clear the dissident republicans who killed Mr Black are trying to egg loyalist hardliners disillusioned with the peace process to go back to war. It is also rather daft to hear British politicians talking about a reduction in activity by the dissident republicans. That was a red flag to a bull and it was inevitable the dissidents would respond with a murder. I understand loyalists within the Mid Ulster area have already drawn up a list of targets, but people from Belfast are in the area to try and calm things down.

Meanwhile, terrorists from Southern Ireland seem to be having a greater say in the running of the overall dissident republican movement since the killing earlier this year of top Real IRA commander Alan Ryan. He was “pretty high up the organisation, a big mover and well thought off by his comrades”, according to my well-placed Northern source in the dissident republican faction, Oglaigh na hEireann.

My source - who has given me interviews in the past about ONH activities - was adamant that negative media coverage of 32-year-old Ryan being some kind of gangster “could not be further from the truth”.
The source maintains that the former Derry-based republican always wanted to use his Real IRA unit to strike at the North, and Mr Black’s murder was merely his successors carrying out his wishes.

The source added:

I knew Alan from when he was 17. He joined the Fianna of Republican Sinn Fein and then went to the Real IRA. He left behind a tight group in North Dublin. He was always well dressed. That was the way he was brought up and it’s not a crime to be well dressed. Everyone who knew him was very impressed by him and saw him as honest and charismatic. The prison officer was killed out of respect for Alan.

ONH members came to the Republic from the North to give support to the North Dublin Real IRA, the source stressed.“Ryan was certainly very prominent in the Real IRA and would have had a big say in their strategy.”

The source said the murder would act as a “springboard” to launch dissident republican activity not just in Dublin, but right across the republic, adding that the level of support was seen by the attendance at Ryan’s funeral.

Asked if there would be reprisals for Ryan’s murder, my source said: “I would be amazed if that did not happen. It is bound to happen. And it may come against the Crown forces.”

The killing of prison officer Black is more evidence of the dissidents’ drip-drip method of terrorism rather than the Provisionals’ previous long-war sustained strategy.


  1. John, you remind me of "Martin Brunt", the sky news crime reporter. He always opened his interview with, "My sources in scotland yard"

    I keep getting this message were posts are supposed to be.

    "Unable to retrieve spec for HTTP error 403"

    I get it with Firefox and ie8.
    am i the only one?

  2. John I was of the opinion that the lvf had claimed it had surrendered its weapons along with the other loyalist groupings,but then we all really knew this was bullshit,to feign concern about the death of a po is beyond a joke ,remind us all who killed the last one? if they are going to kill "taigs" then they really dont need an excuse other than its what we do,Gusty Spence could have testified to this.Andrew Boyds Holy War In Belfast.I wonder is John flagging up a trump card for quisling $inn £ein here in terms of regaining control of these areas by injecting the fear of those dark days of the Shankill butchers and their murdering cronies in the loyalist paramilitaries,if so it could and should backfire badly on quisling $inn £ein and their so called peace dividend that they love to espouse.there has been a tinkering around the edges of the problem here for years but no real effort to address the root cause of the continuing conflict here and that is that norn iorn is a failed entity,never was or will be a proper state or country,and no amount of castle catholics on board will change that,if the govts of Britain and the republic really want peace here then they need to address the real issue partition. sin é.

  3. Itsjustmacker,

    we aren't sure what the problem is. What link are you trying to hit?

  4. itsjustmacker

    im constantly having to re-sign in...but thats just because they are trying to 'shake me off'.

  5. Anthony

    Im not trying to click any link, what i mean is, I can't see any recent posts on the right hand side of your page, and the message above is all I see, and, if you read it to the end, it stipulates an error 403 = "Recent Posts not found"


    Thanks for the info.

  6. John...Why do you keep fanning the flames and stoking up tensions? In your last two articles on the Quill all you've done is talk about violence or the threat of it.

    In a pervious piece you talked about 'a night of the long knives' and the chance of the PRM setting up armed republicans for a St Valentine day's type clear out. Thats not going to happen. It would be nothing else that political sucide for SF and probably kill of any type of tactical support or otherwise phyiscal force republicans have. Some of the people who vote for SF turn a blind eye to OHN,IRA,CIRA.

    Maybe you have a point about the London and Dublin goverments engaging with armed republicans (they need to talk to anti agreement ones).

    Personally my reading of it is this. SF need to come clean to republicans first as to why they signed up to the GFA in the hope that anti agreement republicans accept their reasons for giving up not on the 'war' but on Republicanism. Recently RNU published a paper called Standing outside the peace process
    .John read it one day. it talks about unity, demoracy..everyone living together.

    The killing of prison officer Black is more evidence of the dissidents’ drip-drip method of terrorism rather than the Provisionals’ previous long-war sustained strategy.

    The 'Long war' didn't bring about the objectives John. Maybe 'they' have a different strategy. David Black was shot dead purely because of the condidtions in Roe Hse. No other reason or rational behind it. It's not as if an ASU from the IRA decided a few weeks ago to 'whack a screw'...The NIO and senior prison staff are to blame too!!!

  7. Why don't you use the Quill John to hi-lite the real grievences on the Loyalist side. Brendan Hughes said this yrs ago.

    .How are their [loyalist] ex-prisoners treated? Would the PUP, which claims to be radical and for the working man and woman, allow those who are nothing better than the slum landlords of the building industry to build their party offices with a grossly underpaid workforce who are not allowed to be unionised? How do those who claim to be socialist within the unionist community resist such exploitation? If there is to be a meaningful debate between republicanism and loyalism, let it begin there rather then with the waffle and nonsense about flags that passes for dialogue up at Stormont.

    Several weeks ago Danny Morrison was invited to a talk as part of the John McMichael event and loyalists believe

    It is also clear that loyalists perceive that the Historical Enquiries Team’s work is disproportionately directed at them.

    The PUP say the same on their .website
    Parity of esteem when investigating Troubles related violence. There is a perception that the Historical Enquiries Team are not looking into political violence with impartiality. It is accepted that Nationalist paramilitaries committed 60% of attacks thoughout ‘The Troubles’ with Loyalists carrying out 30% and British security forces 10%. Are the HET investigating old cases using the same percentages?

    Continued support for ex-prisoners. Former paramilitary prisoners suffer from the same problems as those who spent time in jail for non-political offences. They need continued help to enable them to integrate into Northern Ireland society. The promises of long-term help for Unionist ex-prisoners in the GFA have not been delivered.

    Basically John why don't you use the Quill as a way of getting the real problems that ex loyalist prisoners have in finding work, coming to terms. Whats life like for an ex prisoner on the Shankill or Sandy Roads..?.At a guess I think a lot of ex republican prisoners have the same problems. Why don't you talk about the poor housing in protestant areas..I'm sure that in nationalist areas there is the same inadequate housing, social problems. Why don't you write a piece about the common ground both communities have instead of talking about guns, bullets and death???

    @itsjustmacker..Have you ever thought about changing from Bad Billy Boy Gates to a Linux system like ubuntu or backTrack?

  8. Itsjustmackers

    you can always download Google chrome that would be the quickest fix for the problem.
    You could also try cleaning out the browser history and re-start your computer.

    Frankie’s suggestion is much better but a little more complicated unlike the old days of smacking the TV to get the picture.

  9. Itsjustmacker,

    let me know if the problem is fixed. I looked at it today from another computer and had the same problem. But we think it might be fixed now

  10. Anthony.

    Yes its fixed now, thankyou.

    Tain Bo.
    I have a program called ,Advanced System Care Pro, it clears all browsing history, but did you know if you use IE5 or later when you delete browsing history, you might think its deleted because you cant see it, its actually in a hidden file in the root directory, when i find the link i will put it on here.


    I still have ubuntu on cd, tried it once, but at my age it was like trying to learn a new programming language, lol.

    That's an excellent post and I agree with it 100%, Im sure Loyalist ex prisoners are still working on building sites for pittance, some even have Jobs as doormen in there own clubs, no different from our own side.

  11. Tain Bo.

    Ive downloaded and installed Chrome.

    The above is the link to the site were you can find a lot of true things, This is were you can find out how to delete those microsoft "s" hidden files, please note the "s" doe's not stand for "s"ystem, it stands for "s"ecret.

  12. @itsjustmackers..Try to install VMware on to your puter and install Ubuntu virtually.

    All you have to do is click 'Download Torrent' at the top of the page.
    Once you download it and installed it, you will be asked for a product key. Open the Read me txt and use the first product key..Should be 'VV3MH-A4F90-480HP-HWPX9-PFKGF'.

    Then fast foward the video to 2mins 10secs and follow from there. Or follow the video step by step and ignore the link I put up for VMware

    If you have the ISO for ubuntu install as the video..If you have the disc when it comes to installing click 'install from disc'.
    Your puter will boot normally and it will allow you to 'play' around with Ubuntu. Linux systems are safer to use than Windows. And you can do more with Linux.

    You may have to use a wifi adapter (not your internal wifi card) on the bottom right hand of the screen in VMware you'll see icons..One is for your adapter (15quid in Argos, PC world...) on it and 'enable' it for use in the virtual machine not the host..
    Hope that makes sense..

  13. Frankie that meeting in remembrance of John MCcMichael the man who was behind the murders of Ronnie Bunting and Mariam Daly that was attended by so called leading republicans was nothing more than gangsters and agents of the state from opposite sides of the sectarian divide with a common interest in covering their arses sin é I cant see how we can ever seriously reconcile our differences until "loyalism" takes a long hard look at itself, we have people like yourself flagging up genuine working class issues that the people from these communities suffer,but then we see "loyalists" celebrating the queens jubilee ffs its akin to the black people in Alabama attending a KKK convention the working class struggle in "loyalist" areas needs to start by dumping any loyality to those scroungers and then like republicans in this community wake up to the lies and deceit of their so called leaders, then maybe we can sit and talk about genuine problems of mutual concern and go forward from there. I say this as someone who is now proud to be friends with ex uvf people who have done just that ..

  14. marty

    sometimes you talk total ....SENSE!

  15. Marty,

    There is nothing new in this meeting with the loyalists. The Sticks used to meet with them regularly. It grabs the headlines because those who shouted most about no sop to loyalism are now sopping to loyalism. I wouldn’t have a go at them for going to that sort of meeting but I wouldn’t delude myself about it either.

  16. Anthony I would look through the window like the animals in Orwell,s Animal Farm and find it impossible to tell the difference between WOW Mc Aleese ,Adams the disappeared,or Jackie Mc Donald gangster,so called leaders of communities but more at home in the K club,the people I refer to are on the ground loyalists who care about the working class community.yes you are so right a cara the sticks did indeed talk to loyalists and to sb also but this was as they say nothing but business in mainly the tax exemption cert scams that raked in a fortune for those elements in the early 70,s and to protect each others little criminal thiefdoms !it would indeed be a delusion if anyone thought talking to these crims would or could bring about peace never mind justice, we need to talk to and work with our neighbours to brake the stranglehold those bastards have had on these communities,this will only be done by working as a single unified unit,by ordinary people with no criminal intent,but a determination to give future generations here the chance of a life without the shadow of those criminals hanging over them.