Loyalists call for ‘hard political decisions’ to remove paramilitarism from society

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/loyalists-call-for-hard-political-decisions-to-remove-paramilitarism-from-society-1.4368736?mode=amp

Any approach must ‘have the imprimatur of the governments in London, Dublin and Stormont’

Parliament Buildings in Stormont. Photograph: Peter Morrison/PA Wire
Parliament Buildings in Stormont. Photograph: Peter Morrison/PA Wire

An organisation representing loyalist paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland has called on the Irish and British governments and the North’s Assembly to take the “hard political decisions” to remove paramilitarism from society.

The Loyalist Communities Council (LCC), which represents the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Red Hand Commando, met the Independent Reporting Commission (IRC) on Wednesday.

The IRC – which was set up by the Irish and UK governments and aims to bring an end to paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland – is due to release its next report in November.

“Hopefully out of the meeting today they [THE IRC]are seeing there is an urge and an interest within loyalism to move beyond paramilitarism, to move to a place where it can be helped and supported by governments,” said Jim Wilson of the Loyalist Communities Council.

Citing the example of the Red Hand Commando, which had a request to be de-proscribed – or legalised – rejected, Mr Wilson said that “at the minute there’s nothing for any group that wants to go down the road of removing it from the paramilitary scene … there’s no system that we would have where we could even see it starting and try and get to an endgame. Government needs to do that.”

Speaking to The Irish Times after the meeting, Winston Irvine of the Loyalist Communities Council said any approach needed to be “comprehensive” and must “have the imprimatur of the governments in London, Dublin and Stormont.

“If they want to fully civilianise Northern Ireland and remove the paramilitarism dynamic from society then there needs to be some big political decisions taken and there needs to be careful policy discussions within these [Loyalist] groupings,” he said.

But he warned that the organisations must be involved if the plans were to be successful. “Any top-down approach doesn’t work and won’t work,” he said.

Within the loyalist leadership, Mr Irvine said, there had been “ample evidence to suggest that those groupings are on a transformation and transitioning process.

“They want to see their communities free of paramilitary activity, they want to see a process that deals with the past, they want to see the socio-economic factors addressed,” he said.

“The loyalist intent I think is very clear and evident. They want to see a process under which all of the armed groups, the Provisional IRA included, can bring about a Northern Ireland without paramilitarism.”

However, he warned of a number of factors which he said must be recognised, including the uncertainty of Brexit and the marginalisation of loyalists, who he said had been “criminalised and demonised” whereas the narrative around the Provisional IRA had been “sanitised”.

This, he said, put the loyalist leadership under pressure from the grass roots when trying to achieve progress towards ending paramilitarism.

“If progress towards ending paramilitarism is going to be assessed, there needs to be an equitable approach,” he said.

This was particularly acute when addressing the challenge of bringing all of their membership with them, but said the Loyalist Communities Council’s assessment was that it had the capability to “take the critical mass forward.”

Dr Ian Adamson remembered by Rathcoole group on Ulster Day

https://www.newtownabbeytoday.co.uk/news/people/dr-ian-adamson-remembered-rathcoole-group-ulster-day-2986476?fbclid=IwAR2EqFRyzgnDbi8oEiO6-VK9xlT68k1jUXwQZOEiRGbZVn6YqJoFqtO_Bfc

Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 9:46 am
The gas light lamppost was donated by Ian Adamson and his business partner in Pretani Associates, Helen Brooker. Held under Covid restrictions, a small number of people attended the event in the People’s Peace Park on Belfast’s Shore Road.

A plaque and Victorian lamppost were unveiled in memory of the group’s Patron, the late Dr Ian Adamson OBE.

 

The gas light lamppost was donated by Ian Adamson and his business partner in Pretani Associates, Helen Brooker as a memento of the community work carried out between the Dalaradia group and Dr Adamson before his passing.

This Victorian gas light lamppost was refurbished at Patterson’s Spade Mill and by volunteers at The Hubb Community Centre which is Northern Ireland’s last remaining Civil Défense Hall from the Great War.

 

A spokesperson for the organisers said: “Dr Adamson spearheaded the Somme memorials to the 10th, 16th and 36th Divisions, being Vice Chair of the Somme Association and the lamppost’s position adjacent to the Somme Memorial Park on Shore Road is most appropriate.

 

“Dalaradia also remembered Dr Adamson’s life-long career as a children’s doctor in Belfast working tirelessly for the health and wellbeing of all and hope that the lamppost will serve as a beacon of light towards a brighter future as we struggle to come out of the global Covid pandemic and provide a quiet space for reflection for the local community as they take rest on the benches in the Peace Park.

 

“The lamppost will be lit by candle each Remembrance Day as Dalaradia members lay wreaths to remember all those who perished in the World Wars.”

Happy Ulster Day

Happy Ulster day folks.
Ulster’s Solemn League and Covenant, commonly known as the Ulster Covenant, was signed on and before 28 September 1912. The signatories, 471,414 in all were in protest against the Third Home Rule Bill introduced by the British Government in the same year. Sir Edward Carson was the first person to sign the Covenant during a carefully choreographed ceremony at Belfast’s City Hall. Carson marched in military procession toward the hall, behind a flag said to have been carried by King William III’s troops at the Battle of the Boyne.
In the grand entrance he leaned over a circular table, tightly draped in the Union Flag and signed with a silver pen, followed by Lord Londonderry (the former viceroy of Ireland), representatives of the Protestant churches, then by Sir James Craig before the throngs waiting outside were ushered in, 500 at a time, until the doors were closed near midnight.
Women added their names to a separate declaration pledging to associate themselves with the men of Ulster.
We, their descendants, just as they were, are duty bound to defend our country and its people from any perceived threat to our way of life.
We know the war prepared
On ever peaceful home
We know the hells prepared
For such as serve not Rome
The terror, threats, and bread
In market, hearth, and field –
We know, when all is said,
We perish if we yield.

Pretani Associates delighted to attend the Dalaradia Historical Group Lamppost Event

Monday 28th September 2020

Plaque wording;

Late 19th century gas lamp donated by Pretani Associates, Dr Ian Adamson OBE and Helen Brooker, to the Dalaradia Historical Group to recognise their work on Common Identity. This work promotes one cultural narrative for the British Isles to which all can belong. A narrative which begins by understanding the first known name of the islands – The Isles of Pretani.

Knowledge brings a light which reveals the way forward towards stability within these islands.

Dedicated by Professor Wesley Hutchinson on the 27th November 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dalaradia have understood for many years the importance of promoting a Regional Common Identity for the British Isles. Knowing the first known name of the islands – The Isles of Pretani – and therefore the first definite name for the people, the Pretani – reveals a common identity, a common starting point for the history of these islands.

Common Identity promotes one cultural narrative to which all can belong. This cultural narrative will explain all the journeys, connections and identities that are important to people in this region. Common Identity reminds us:

· We all belong to a continent and we all belong to an area of land within that continent

· We all have travelled before settling in an area of land

· We all have strands to our family line

· We are simply the next generation, facing the same challenges, with the responsibility to secure the future of the world.

An understanding of all journeys, connections and identities within a region, often highlights to people that they have more in common with each other than they realised, but it is subsequent invasions and imposition of characteristics over many years which have confused them. The Common Identity narrative allows freedom of expression, freedom of thought and space to create a sense of belonging for all.

Having a broader perspective to history will connect people to their rich cultural history and remove cultural confusion, which is essential for creating cultural stability. Cultural stability is the foundation for achieving political and economic stability. Such stability allows societies to thrive and achieve an acceptable quality of life for all.

To Ian Adamson, a man of great wisdom, who ensured we had knowledge.

 

 

Loyalism is not getting the official help that it needs to transform

https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/opinion/columnists/loyalism-not-getting-official-help-it-needs-transform-2967679?fbclid=IwAR2GxhGhP8A-igDHPrWR8qnCzszpFnQvp4nnum21sipgjVIHliZXTmAsrMI

Next month marks five years since Jonathan Powell launched the Loyalist Communities Council.

David Campbell, left, chair of the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) pictured in 2016 with a new flag for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme alongside the loyalists Jim Wilson, Jackie McDonald and Winston Irvine. Picture by Pacemaker Press

It has been my privilege to chair the LCC over this period and to have witnessed significant progress by many within the three loyalist groups as they put paramilitarism behind them and focus on rebuilding their communities and reconciling with other, opposing traditions.

The strength of that community outreach has been demonstrated over the past few months as we all have had to come to terms with covid-19 restrictions. The loyalist community immediately sprang into action, organising the distribution of food parcels and sanitation products and ensuring that no-one felt ignored or marginalised.

As Honorary Turkish Consul for Northern Ireland I was approached by a number of Turkish families and Turkish workers who had become stranded in Northern Ireland after lockdown and were in danger of becoming destitute. Within hours the families received visits from community groups and were given food and money, and were sustained for several weeks until the Turkish government could arrange emergency flights back to Turkey.

The government articulates the need for the loyalist community to transform, yet shows an attitude of discrimination

What is less encouraging however has been the consistent attitude of government to exclude and discriminate against the loyalist community whilst all the while articulating the need for them to transform. A month after the LCC was formed the Fresh Start Agreement was concluded at Stormont. This committed government to specific actions to end paramilitarism including the establishment of an inter-departmental Board.

After five years that Board has still not met or communicated with the LCC. Last week the Northern Ireland Office announced the new membership of the Human Rights Commission. No recognisable member of the loyalist community was appointed.

If one considers the entire memberships of the main public bodies that would be particularly relevant to loyalism and its transformation – Policing Board, Parades Commission, Equality Commission, and the Human Rights Commission; there is only one recognisable loyalist member in Dawn Purvis who is on the Equality Commission (as a side issue, in examining the membership of these boards one quickly sees how incestuous they are. Quite a few members sit on multiple boards and in some cases the chairmanships seem to rotate amongst a select few).

I am writing to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee to bring this exclusion to their attention and to ask for an Inquiry into public appointments in Northern Ireland.

Some time ago the LCC were asked to give evidence to the Flags and Emblems Commission that had been set up. Our first question to the Commission was who was appointed to represent the loyalist community. It appeared no-one had been.

To add insult to injury, last week also saw the first meeting of the Centenary Forum established to advise on events to mark Northern Ireland’s first one hundred years. Despite the loyalist community providing the organisation and support to all of the unionist centenary events over the past eight years no loyalist representative has been appointed.

The pattern I have highlighted is just the tip of the iceberg. If one were to delve into the resourcing of loyalist areas in comparison to republican areas one would uncover a huge loyalist deficit. Is it any wonder that statistically the most under-privileged young person in western Europe is a teenage boy from a loyalist heartland ? Is it any wonder that these teenagers continue to flock to loyalist paramilitary organisations and sustain their existence ?

If this level of exclusion and discrimination pervaded republican communities we would never stop hearing about it, and we know from our history, there would literally be rioting in the streets.

But it is loyalism and loyalist unionist communities, so society ignores them !

• David Campbell is Chairman of the Loyalist Communities Council

 

William ‘Plum’ Smith papers sold

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/archive-of-loyalist-who-met-with-ira-and-exchanged-letters-with-president-clinton-sells-for-11k-39481195.html

Archive of loyalist who met with IRA and exchanged letters with President Clinton sells for £11k

“A huge archive of papers belonging to the late loyalist paramilitary leader turned peacemaker William ‘Plum’ Smith has been sold in a Dublin auction.

And the former Red Hand Commando’s collection – which included documents related to secret loyalist talks with the IRA and letters from American President Bill Clinton – went for nearly twice what the auctioneers had estimated.

Whyte’s had predicted the ex- Progressive Unionist Party chairman’s archive would fetch up between €5,000 and €7,000 but in the end it realised €13,000.”

Survey. How Unionist are Conservative Party members?

https://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2020/08/our-survey-how-unionist-are-conservative-party-members.html

Congratulations

Congratulations to our colleague at REACH Robin Stewart on receiving a Nominated Neighbour award from East Side Arts.

This recognises his untiring work to his community through the Covid Pandemic.

Aimee from East Side Arts presented the award and a portrait of Robin will feature on their website and be shown in Connswater shopping centre.

Robin is shown observing social distancing  with community volunteers , Chrissie and Dawn from CFNI  whose support to us has been invaluable.

 

The Red Hand

Why the GAA’s rulebook poses a conundrum for unionist president of new east Belfast club

Why the GAA’s rulebook poses a conundrum for unionist president of new east Belfast club – Nelson McCausland

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/columnists/nelson-mccausland/why-the-gaas-rulebook-poses-a-conundrum-for-unionist-president-of-new-east-belfast-club-39258357.html