Allison Morris: Red Hand Commando publicity stunt a fruitless exercise

Former UVF leader Gusty Spence along with William 'Plum' Smyth, Gary McMichael, David Irvine and David Adams announcing the loyalist ceasefire in 1994

The Red Hand Commando is an old boys club in every sense of the word, made up of less than 20 members, the leader of which, in name at least, is currently a very old and very ill man.

Despite having previously killed 13 people -12 innocent civilians and one of their own members - to say they present no current threat to the security of Northern Ireland would be a pretty accurate assessment.

The UDA and UVF continued to recruit long after the Good Friday Agreement and fractured into autonomous organisations under individual leaderships.

Related: Sinn Féin: Attempt to legalise a loyalist paramilitary group is 'ludicrous'

There are currently members of both of those organisations aged in their early 20s despite the Combined Loyalist Military Command making their ceasefire statement before they were born.

The RHC, with its ageing leadership, was not attractive to those young loyalists and so has organically reduced in size over the years.

Senior police officers have said recently that members of those larger groups remain involved in criminality, and that should now be a policing and not a political problem.

Millions of pounds of public money has been poured into helping groups such as the RHC 'leave the stage' to no avail, because senior members of those groups have turned the peace process into a lucrative business.

The RHC claim that they want legalised to openly take part in community work is a nonsense, they are already free to do so, as is any citizen of the North.

However, former members constantly seeking praise and recognition for doing what law abiding citizens of working class communities do every day of the year, is quite rightly unpalatable to victims and their families.

The RHC recent submission to the Home Office seems in part a vanity project aimed at making the Loyalist Communities Council seem relevant and partly to try and protect members who made confessions about sectarian murders to an oral history project from future prosecution.

The fruitlessness of this recent stunt is encapsulated in the Home Office statement to this paper, confirming they have no role whatsoever in deproscribing terrorist organisations in Northern Ireland.

That is a matter for the NIO, based in Stormont House.

Therefore some anonymous donor paid to send a bunch of ageing loyalists on a pointless jolly to London when they could achieved more had they got a taxi to Stormont.

That in itself perfectly sums of the ridiculousness of this application by the RHC, who could simply have just announce disbandment and moved on, but where would the funding be in that?

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