First let me clear one thing up, I did not make it clear that my brother survived, I am sorry for that,he did loose many friends though. Please excuse my error.
I will try to deal with the funding issues and hopefully you will see I have no truck with either side, I see warts and all.
This link will show how close to real trouble N.Ireland has been, and maybe give an indication to the "maturity" shown by the loyalists leaders. These idiots were shooting at PSNI just over a year ago for goodness sake.
One point though, the Gov was stuck between a rock and a hard place, people in Belfast,both sides,needed their areas refurbished, in all senses of the word.The nat\rep side was getting this help, the union\loyalist was but not at the same rate. This was causing problems among the hardliners, to settle that down more funding had to be released, no matter if loyalists held weapons or not.
As I said before, the holding on of weapons has little to do with wanting to attack the IRA's, or it would have happened by now, it is to keep power within it own organisation.
When we get more normalised as a society people will drift out of the loyalist groups, as there will be no need for them to be there, eventually the weapons will be left to rust.
I still say they deserve some recognition for the restraint they have shown, considering the show of willingness to use weapons as little as over a year ago. (news report)
Most importantly you have to remember that SF\IRA have praised the loyalists, they see no real risk to peace, if there was they would have retaliated by now.
"But they still have their arms and the story is hardly covered by the media - quite unlike the situation that obtained up to the PIRA decommissioning."
The media covering of the IRA's decommissioning was more news worthy than loyalists for the simple reason no IRA no need for any loyalist groups to "defend" their community against them.
In real terms peace was never the gift of the loyalists to give, it was the IRA's and that loyalists holding onto their weapons,as it has been shown, did not affect the peace in any way.
"Added to that, I hope you also accept your statement that the vast majority of the IRA's victims were Catholic will knock on the head frequent loyalist claims that the IRA were sectarian. It's an odd form of sectarianism to 'kill your own'"
I must say your statement implies I am some sort of loyalist terrorist supporter. I never inferred the murders were sectarian,I pointed out the IRA and their supporters or apologists do not have a foot to stand on when they whinge about catholic murders, as they were the responsible for the highest proportion of them.
Placing a name on these murders make them no less vile, killing for sectarian reasons or for the "cause" makes no difference to the victims or their families. So lets look at the murders as a human rights issue and the IRA denied more people of the basic human right, to life, than all the rest combined.
Also what has been shown over the years violence will never achieve a United Ireland.
"The security forces were well-known for being sectarian up to recent times,"
Again we have this sectarian label, I wonder who it was that put the loyalists and nat\rep terrorists behind bars, and believe me they went after the loyalist with more zeal.
You fail to mention the deaths caused by collusion of the Gardi and the IRA, would all Gards be IRA sympathisers?
Lets look at this in context of fighting a war,after all that is what the IRA call's the last 30 or more years. Name me a country that has not deployed double agents, infiltrators, used shady elements to carryout some acts against their enemy?
A bit of childishness is being displayed on this issue the IRA used dirty trick but faced with their own medicine they cry foul.
I am not defending the use of such tactics but can understand it, if we look at the IRA's involvement during WW2 they adopted the my enemy of my enemy is my friend,so they assisted the Nazi's during the war and after it.
Would the use of loyalist terrorists,who hate the IRA, be so wrong, and given the IRA's claims of being an army why whinge at having such tactics used against them?
If we use the same reasoning as you," It's an odd form of sectarianism to 'kill your own'", over the years would the Catholic Chief Constable's and senior policemen be implicit in sectarian killings? Who has the moral high ground? neither is my answer.
"fatal ambush by SAS of PIRA at Loughgall" would you prefer that the IRA had bulldosed the gate and slaughtered those inside the police station?
Just as the IRA saw the security forces as the enemy and exercised a ruthless murder campaign against them, do they have any right to expect different treatment and if so why? Are they not soldiers in an active army.
At least the were given some chance to defend themselves, a well known ex terrorist walks the shopping mall where he slaughtered an off duty soldier in front of his family, calmly walked away to take his family to the park. That is known fact, I will not name the terrorist.
"The loyalist Shankill Butchers" why do you put the label loyalist, is it an attempt to justify the IRA's existence or are you saying all people who hold the opposite view to IRA supproters are in support of the likes of the butchers?
These peoples actions were reviled by all right thinking people in N.Ireland on both sides, they are no ones heroes. They took advantage of the times to commit their murders, I hope they roast in hell.
We can give counters to every atrocity we care to mention that's the very nature of N.Ireland politics there is no winners in such debates, all that happens is people dig in to their deep held prejudices and justify them in their own minds.
You want to talk about propaganda, the IRA had the best propaganda machine ever, the BBC, follow this link http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_7968000/7968671.stm
Look through the videos and tell me no propaganda was at work by nat\rep. Especially the women claiming there was no IRA nor weapons in the Divis Flats and that the Gov. was using the IRA as an excuse to attack poor catholics.
The best video is the initial one it shows Ian Paisley in his early days with his American accent, listen to the tone of the reporter, the IRA's cause has been well and truly represented in the media.
"Loyalists like to make out their violence is only ever a 'response' to republican violence."
Do we not have ex rep\nat terrorists basically making the same excuse, neither side as I said before has the moral high ground and in making such assertions it gives an insight to how you view terrorist in N.Ireland.
Gusty Spence the man arrested for the Malvern Murders was to give an abject apology, not that it justifies his murders, but he saw the errors of his ways. Go here for an account of that time
What I say is that we all in N.Ireland have had our lives shaped by prejudices and now we have a chance to shake these prejudices off and that is a threat to dissidents.
Can I ask have you ever setfoot in N.Ireland or lived here?