“There are progressive elements inside the UVF and Red Hand Commando who have been trying to steer a path that would eventually bring an end to paramilitarism but I felt that they were seriously hampered and I felt that the PUP, and what they were trying to do – give a voice to working class loyalist communities, to try and transform those communities – was being seriously hampered.
“If you constantly have to ask questions about the wrong doing of others you’re not able to do normal politics, you’re not able to fight for working class people on working class issues and in the aftermath of the murder that’s what I toyed with for many days and I came to the conclusion that I had to go,” said Dawn.
It’s also believed that Dawn wasn’t alone in coming to her conclusion that the Moffett murder was a step backwards for the UVF, with at least one long-serving member of the paramilitary’s brigade staff believed to have stepped down in protest. In the wake of Dawn’s resignation questions were raised as to why the Moffett murder prompted her to leave when the 26 murders attributed to the UVF since Purvis joined the PUP in 1994 hadn’t. For Dawn, it’s all about the context.
“I joined the PUP after the ceasefire was called in 1994, I know some people have made much of when I joined and the amount of murders that were attributed to the UVF and the Red Hand Commando since that time. “Yes there were horrific murders committed by the UVF during that period but I also knew that those within the PUP and the UVF were doing their best to transform the organisation away from violence and towards peace. I think when we got the statement of intent in May 2007 from the UVF it was really a change in time and context, here we had a paramilitary organisation wedded to violence and responsible for some of the worst atrocities of the troubles saying they were intending to go away and that in my mind was a very strong statement.
“It was also around the same time that devolution was restored and it gave a lot of hope to the community that on the back of all that. We also had the UVF and Red Hand Commando entering into a process that would eventually lead to decommissioning.
“So here we had an organisation that had built up some credibility. Obviously you will have people who will disagree with that and ask how can you say any organisation responsible for murder can build up credibility, but it had built up credibility in terms of ‘here’s what we intend to do and by the way we’re decommissioning’, so within that context the UVF had indicated that politics was working and that they were going away.”
She added: “I think the murder of Bobby Moffett not only undermined the credibility they had built up but also undermined the work of the PUP and people associated with the organisation that were working to bring an end to paramilitarism.
“So the context to the Moffett murder was different, it was absolutely different. And people will look at what I did and say well why didn’t you walk away earlier when others died what I say though is; different context, different time.”
While Dawn was trying to decide what her next step would be following the Moffett murder, rumour was rife that the PUP would split from the UVF and Red Hand Commando. Purvis though never saw that as a likely outcome explaining that the UVF need to break the link with the PUP by realising there is no longer a need for them to exist rather than the PUP breaking with them.