The DUP is highly critical of the assembly link between the UUP and David Irvine of the Progressive Unionist Party, because of his association with loyalist paramilitaries.
I think it is worth recalling that, in 1981, Dr Ian Paisley was responsible for assembling 500 men in military formation and paramilitary dress, each holding aloft what was claimed to be a valid gun licence. This was clearly aimed at communicating to the world that he had at his command an organised group of armed men should the need arise for military action.
In August 1986, Peter Robinson led a 500-strong loyalist cross-border incursion into the village of Clontibret. The clear objective of this exercise was to demonstrate to northern nationalists and the people of the Republic just how vulnerable were their communities, particularly in border areas, should large-scale sectarian fighting break out.
In November 1986, Rev Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Ivan Foster founded Ulster Resistance which, Dr Paisley warned, was not for "the faint or half-hearted", and pledged that the group would use "all means which may be found necessary to defeat the Anglo-Irish Agreement". At an Ulster Resistance rally in Belfast's Ulster Hall later that month, leading DUP members Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Sammy Wilson (now a DUP MLA & former Lord Mayor of Belfast) donned red berets while flanked by men in military style uniforms.
Yet Ian Paisley and the DUP have always denied any association with, or responsibility for the actions of the various Loyalist paramilitary organisations which have been responsible for some of the most savage murders in Northern Ireland over 30 years.
W.B. Yeats wondered if he carried any responsibility for the 1916 Rising when he wrote:
"Did that play of mine send out
Certain men the English shot?"
Have Dr Paisley & co ever harboured any similar concerns about just how clean their own hands may be when it comes to the atrocities committed by loyalist paramilitaries?
Footnote: A slightly abbreviated version published as a letter in the Irish Times, the Irish Independent & the Irish Examiner.
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