Apr 09

Declaration of Transformation

A Loyalist Declaration of Transformation from the Red Hand Commando, Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force

Delivered 11.30am, Monday 9th April 2018 at the Linen Hall Library, Belfast

Embargoed until 12.00 midday, Monday 9th April 2018

“The Good Friday Agreement was created in a spirit of accommodation and its promise was a more inclusive Northern Ireland. There would have been no Agreement without the involvement of loyalists. However, it is time to recommit to the creation of a Northern Ireland that enables all to realise their potential and aspirations. Any community left behind in that ambition represents a failure not only for the peace process, but for Northern Ireland as a whole.

For too long we have been berated for our past and not able to imagine a better future. We must challenge that outlook by no longer being apologists for conflict but advocates for change and working to create a society that is at ease with itself in its diversity and difference.

It was made clear at the time of the CLMC 1994 ceasefire statement that ‘abject and true remorse’ existed for suffering inflicted during the conflict and that remains the case today. However, no-one should ever be excluded from playing a constructive role in the future because of past actions. We therefore seek to fulfil the commitments we made in 1994 by continuing a process of transformation.

We draw attention to the fact that even in the context of republican reliance on divisive identity-politics we continue to maintain a commitment to the peace process. We are fully committed to participation in such a process and will approach it with honesty, integrity and sensitivity. We also recognise the importance of a legacy process designed to help Northern Ireland confront the past and from that experience build a society of possibility and hope. We have made this clear many times and have indeed contributed to previous work on dealing with the past.

We fully support the rule of law in all areas of life and emphatically condemn all forms of criminal activity. Individuals who use criminality to serve their own interests at the expense of loyalist communities are an affront to the true principles of loyalism.

We reject and repudiate as unacceptable and contrary to loyalist principles any criminal action claimed to have been undertaken in our name or attributed to any individual claiming membership of one of our organisations. We further declare that any engagement in criminal acts by any individuals within our organisations will be regarded as placing those persons outside the memberships. This has been collectively agreed. We cannot allow criminals to hinder transformation and the ground on which such people stand is now shrinking.

We seek to make an important contribution to the construction of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Northern Ireland and to support this objective intend to provide strong community leadership and positive influence to promote social, economic and political development.

Loyalists must have ownership and control of their own future. Now is the time for a renewed loyalism, with a new impetus, to meet the challenges ahead. We want to see a better future for all in Northern Ireland and where the residual effects of conflict are recognised and addressed in a reparative manner. We must shape our own destiny, and with the co-operation of others, ensure loyalist communities are at the centre of Northern Ireland’s peace and political transformation.


Crowd Funding for young Carter Carson


Please give generously folks. After a tragic loss a family has enough on their plate without the financial burden that follows.

God bless.

Deepest condolences

The Dalaradia group would like to send our deepest condolences to the family of young Carter, a member of the 18th Newtownabbey Youth (08s). A team we sponsor. We are deeply saddened about your loss.

A pleasant young man who had a whole life ahead of him.

We pray that in this difficult time, the love of God shelters you and mends the pain as you move forward. God bless.

Deepest sympathies

Dalaradia would like to express our deepest sympathies to the McCartney family on the sudden passing of Billy – a friend of ours.


No one can prepare you for a loss; it comes like a swift wind. However, take comfort in knowing that he is now resting in the arms of our Lord.

Lest we forget

Mar 26

Good Relations Conference & Awards Ceremony

On Saturday morning our group attended the Good Relations Conference & Awards Ceremony at the Crusaders Social Club, Shore Road. The event was to celebrate and recognise the efforts and participation of various groups including Old Comrades, Baron Hall, White City, Alexandra Church Hall, Hubb Ladies Group (The Millies) and the Grave Diggers. Various group attained OCN accredited awards for their work in a cross-examination of Northern Irelands rich cultural and historical tapestry.



The morning started with registration with tea/coffee.

A warm welcome from the HUBB chair Kerry Johnston opened the morning discussions followed by David O Briens entertaining “Raised on songs and Stories”.

Fergus Whelan, a Historian and Author whose main area of interest is Radical Protestantism in Eighteenth Century Ireland was up next.


This was followed by round the table discussions and feedback from the audience.

Our Patron Dr Ian Adamson OBE then took the floor for a talk on “Why are they called the British Isles – Pretani Associates”.

Afterward there was a digital Evaluation and Quizdom then finally closing remarks from the HUBB manager Jim Crothers.

Lunch followed with the day ending with a performance from the
Hounds of Ulster.

A very enjoyable day for our members in attendance.

Mar 21

Sinn Fein ‘ignoring’ result of consultation over bus signs in Irish


Sinn Fein has been accused of ignoring the results of a consultation that suggested there was “very little appetite for Irish language signage” on buses in Co Londonderry.

The consultation, which was carried out by Translink in the spring and summer of 2017, proposed bilingual English and Irish destination screens onboard Ulsterbus vehicles in the nationalist west bank of Derry.

The project was piloted on the Slievemore route, with a plan to roll it out to other areas of the city if it successful. Bilingual signs are already in operation on buses in west Belfast.

But according to response to a Freedom of Information request by DUP MP Gregory Campbell, almost three-quarters (74%) of the 9,421 people who completed the survey were against the idea.

Last month talks to restore Stormont broke down due to disagreements between the DUP and Sinn Fein over legislation for the Irish language. Mr Campbell – who was barred from speaking in the Assembly for a day in 2014 after making fun of the Irish language – called on Sinn Fein to explain why it had “ignored” the results of the consultation.

He said: “Around this time last year, Sinn Fein in Londonderry claimed they had been lobbying Translink since February 2015 for a consultation about bilingual destination signage on scheduled Ulsterbus service vehicles in the area. The results were forwarded to the Department for Infrastructure late last year. This survey, requested by Sinn Fein, has demonstrated that there is very little appetite for Irish language signage even when Sinn Fein promotes it.

“Either Sinn Fein is aware of this consultation outcome and has decided to keep it hidden or Sinn Fein is unaware of the outcome and didn’t ask because they were afraid of what the outcome might be. The public have a right to know which it is.”

Translink said that given the consultation results, it currently had “no plans” to introduce bilingual destination screens in Derry.

It added: “Translink will continue to offer information primarily in English, subject to future statutory requirements.”

Sinn Fein insisted there was “significant support for bilingual signs”.

It said: “The trials in west Belfast have been very successful and Sinn Fein would wish to roll that out in other places where bilingual signage is welcome. Bilingual bus signs are already used every day in Derry on Bus Eireann vehicles and there has been little or no opposition to that.”

Belfast Telegraph”


Happy St Patricks day

Happy St Patricks day!

It is usually assumed that Southern Irish Catholics were the first to bring the traditions of St. Patrick’s Day to America and were the first to hold parades on that day to celebrate “Irishness”. That assumption is wrong…

In 1737 the Charitable Irish Society was formed in Boston by Scotch-Irish Presbyterian colonists. The Society was set up with the purpose to assist newly arriving fellow immigrants from Ireland in the traumatic process of settling in a strange new country. In March 17th of that year they decided to mark St. Patrick’s day with a dinner at a local tavern followed by a modest parade through the streets. This was to be the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in America, and most likely the world (Ireland didn’t commemorate Patrick with parades until the 1930’s). The Charitable Irish Society is the oldest Irish organisation in America and it is still in existence. It was exclusively Presbyterian until 1804 when the society became non-denominational. Today, understandably, its membership is mostly made up of Roman Catholics.

It is often wrongly cited that the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York but the first records of celebrations for the Irish apostle in that city come from 1762 (25 years after the Boston event). An Irish Protestant called John Marshall invited Friends to his house at Mount Pleasant for a party to celebrate the day. His guests marched as a body to the party thus forming the first unofficial “parade”. In 1766 the New York Gazette reported on a notable March 17th celebration at the house of a gentleman by the name of Mr. Bardin. Among the toasts raised on the evening were; “the prosperity of Ireland“, “Success to the Sons Of Liberty in America” and “The glorious memory of King William of Orange“. The first proper St. Patrick’s day parade in New York was in that same year (1766) when soldiers from the British Army’s Irish regiments (Catholics were forbidden to join the army until 1778) met at the Crown & Thistle tavern in Manhattan, drank a toast to King George III and then paraded through New York with the “playing of fifes and drums, which produced a very agreeable harmony.” before heading back to the pub for more drinks. Today, Irish regiments in the British Army still mark St. Patrick’s day with a parade.

On 17th March 1780, in honour of his large contingent of Irish soldiers, General George Washington issued a General Order to give his troops the day off for St. Patrick’s Day. Over one third of the Continental Army were of Irish descent or Irish born, the vast majority of whom were Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. Soldiers from within these ranks had formed a society called The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in 1771 of which George Washington was an honorary member. The original society was overwhelmingly Scotch-Irish Presbyterian in membership with some Episcopalians and three Catholics, one of whom they elected as their first president; General Stephen Moylan.


The Friendly Son’s membership was originally mostly Scotch-Irish

The Friendly Sons held the first St. Patrick’s celebrations in Philadelphia in 1771 where the organisation had been formed. They also organised the official St. Patrick’s day parades in New York city from 1784 into the 1800’s. The American War of Independence had struck a sympathetic chord in Ulster. Many thousands of Ulster people had emigrated to America and some were in the forefront of the Revolution. However when France declared its support for the Colonists, Volunteer Companies were formed to counter any possibility of a French invasion of Ireland. Ulster at that time was the cradle of progressive ideas in Ireland. “May the northern lights ever illuminate the Irish nation” became a popular toast.

Many of the volunteers were politically-conscious and democratically minded. They used the strength of the Volunteer Movement to press for radical reform, including a demand for legislative independence. Although the Volunteers were Protestants, the Belfast Companies called vociferously for Catholic emancipation and resolved that: “We invite to our ranks persons of every religious persuasion”. Indeed the Belfast Companies not only raised half the building costs of St Mary’s Chapel and St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Donegall Street but on the day of its opening in 1784 paraded in full dress and marched to attend the Mass, which according to the Belfast Newsletter, was also attended by great numbers of the other Protestant inhabitants.

Father O’Donnell published a letter of thanks from the Roman Catholics of Belfast to the Volunteers “for their generosity in enabling them to erect a handsome edifice for the celebration of divine worship. They know not in what adequate terms to express their feelings and were excited by the attendance and so respectable a protestant audience on Sunday last at the opening of the House- the impression of which mark of regard is never to be effaced”.

A few years later, in 1789, the Siege of Derry centenary commemorations showed, as A T Q Stewart pointed out, how the celebration of the historic event could not have developed in a more natural way, allowing all the townspeople to take civic pride in it. An early nineteenth Century account describes how the day’s celebrations culminated. The Derry Corporation, the Clergy, the Officers of the Navy and Army, the gentlemen from the country, Volunteers, Scholars and Apprentices sat down to a plain but plentiful dinner in the Town Hall. Religious dissentions in particular seemed to be buried in oblivion. Roman Catholics vied with Protestants in expressing their sense of the blessing secured to them by the event which they were commemorating.
On March 17, 1812, in Savannah Georgia, thirteen men founded the Hibernian Society, dedicated to aiding largely Catholic destitute Irish immigrants. A few months later, the group, now up to 44 members, adopted a constitution and the motto, “non sibi sed alis” (not for ourselves, but for others). Not one charter member was a Catholic. One year later, on March 17, 1813 the group held the city’s first St Patrick’s day parade, they marched in procession to a Presbyterian church. It’s a similar story with Canada’s oldest parade; Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Day parade was first held in 1824. Soon after, the St. Patrick’s Society was born in the city, it’s membership was overwhelmingly Protestant. In 1856, many of the members left and formed the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society.

At the beginning of the 19th century during the Napoleonic Wars, the demand for timber for sailing ships could not be met from the traditional source of the Baltic States due to a blockade by Napoleon’s navy. Emigration through the ports of Moville and Derry was to British North America, where timber was plentiful, rather than the new United States. Due to technological changes in linen production, cottage-based weavers and their impoverished families were left with no option but to migrate to the Maritime Provinces of what is now Canada.

This immigration started about 1815 following the battle of Waterloo and it is thought that 80% of passengers landed in Canada, with perhaps half of that total going on to the United States. By 1871 they made up 24.3% of Canada’s population, with 35% of the population of Ontario and New Brunswick being of Irish origin.

In this pre-famine period of genuinely mass immigration (1815-45) in both the United States(400,000) and Canada (450,000), protestant Irish migrants continued to significantly outnumber Roman catholic Irish. As a consequence in 1871 60% of the Irish in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were protestant. Furthermore they were rural settlers, in contrast to the United States where the Irish immigrant’s principal role was to service the industrial revolution.
The Canadian Irish Protestant Benevolent Society
With the failure of the Potato crop in 1845 thousands upon thousands of desperate and diseased men, women and children from every corner of Ireland sought escape by boarding ships bound for America. And it is this period (1845-50) that has received the most attention. There is still a tendency to see the Great Famine as the prime cause of the Irish Diaspora, when in reality heavy emigration from Ireland began well before the Famine and continued well after it.

From the mid 1800’s, as Roman Catholic immigrants from Ireland started to outnumber their Protestant counterparts in the Northern Yankee cities, the parades started to become controlled and organised by the Roman Catholic only Ancient Order of Hibernians, which was formed in New York in 1836. The parades became less secular and took on a Catholic Nationalist political outlook. Non-denominational societies such as The Friendly Sons, The Charitable Irish & the Hibernian Society became more Roman Catholic and Gaelic, moving away from their Protestant and Cruthinic origins. Thanks though, to its Irish Protestant beginnings in America, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations remained more secularized than in Ireland, where it was considered a day of holy obligation. In fact, until the 1970s the bars in Dublin were closed on March 17.

Another common misconception today is that Irish-Americans are predominately Roman Catholic. But in fact more than half of the 40 million Americans who claim Irish heritage are Protestant in faith. One of the main factors for this is that in the colonial period 30 percent of all immigrants from Europe arriving between 1700 and 1820 came from Ireland and the great majority of them were Scotch-Irish Presbyterians from Ulster. To give a perspective on this; in 1790 when Fr. John Carroll was ordained as the first Roman Catholic bishop of the USA there were around 30,000 practising Roman Catholics (around 1% of the population) and 22 priests in the new United States. This number represents Roman Catholics of all nationalities (English, Irish, Dutch, German etc.). At the same time there were around 200 practising Presbyterian ministers from Ulster alone and an estimated 250,000 Scotch-Irish.

The descendants of these early Scotch-Irish arrivals have been multiplying ever since. A study in the 1970’s showed that 83% of Irish-American Protestants have been in America for four generations or more compared to only 41% of Irish-American Catholics. The National Opinion Resarch Centre at the University of Chicago produced statistics which demonstrated that 12% of modern adult Americans named Ireland as the country from which most of their ancestors came and 56% belonged to one of the Protestant churches. Not many are now Presbyterians for most became Methodists and Baptists according to conscience.This was due to old-time preachers whose traditions also lived on in the American Black community to be personified by Martin Luther King . There seems to be a growing trend in America for Protestant Irish to wear orange on St. Patrick’s day in recognition of their faith and heritage.

Saint Patrick’s story is therefore essentially an Ulster story. This is where he was enslaved as a boy from Britain by the Cruthin Chieftain Milchu, this is where he returned to as a man. It is where he built his first church in a barn, , it is where he evangelized, among his first converts being the daughter of Milchu, the Cruthin princess Bronagh, it is where he lived and died. And it is where his cult became established in Connor, Dalaradia, in Antrim,before moving to Armagh. Today, St. Patrick’s so-called “grave stone” can be viewed in the grounds of Down Church of Ireland Episcopalian Cathedral in Downpatrick, Ulster… not far from where he built his first house of Christian worship in Saul, the barn, Co. Down. So his story is an Appalachian story too…And,of course, Patrick is also the Patron Saint of Nigeria and a potent symbol of Common Identity with the Black Community….


Loyalism and Art

With our recent post about a piece of Art given to us we thought we would share an old event whom our friend William “Plum” Smith introduced the launching of. Everyone must be afforded the avenue to express their feelings in a mature and constructive manner and the Arts is perfect for this. Many political prisoners took up various positive and constructive pastimes and careers while they were incarcerated including, music, writing, handicrafts, education and arts.

The Loyalist Ex-Prisoners Art Exhibition took place in Crumlin Road Gaol on 28th March 2013. William opened the occasion with the following speech.

“First of all on behalf of the Ex-Loyalist Prisoners Community I would like thank you all for coming to the initial Launch of the Ex-Loyalist Prisoner Art Exhibition.

EPIC (Ex-Prisoners Interpretative Centre) is an organisation that represents the constituency of RHC/UVF Ex-Prisoners. Over the course of the conflict more that 10,000 Loyalists ended up incarcerated in the Prisons and Prison Camps of Northern Ireland and beyond. Almost every one of them passed through the gates of this prison at some time. Each one has their own story, their own experiences and each had their own way of dealing with the sentences handed down to them from the courts. Many political prisoners took up various positive and constructive pastimes and careers while they were incarcerated including, music, arts, writing, handicrafts and education. Some, like Danny Strutt and Tommy Cull, were even more creative by designing their own early release scheme when they escaped from these walls in 1973.

Today we present a small example of the work of three ex-loyalist prisoners who took up art and honed their talents by painting and sketching their way through their years of imprisonment. Upon their release they continue to paint and sketch, some as a pastime and some as a profession.

Their art is also a record of their time in prison a pictorial history captured by vivid imagination captured by the stroke of a pencil or the swish of a brush. There is an ocean of talent and exhibits hidden within the wider ex-prisoner community and by launching this exhibition we hope to stimulate more of the ex-prisoner community to come forward and display whatever creativity or talent they developed while they were imprisoned during the conflict.

Today I can see ex- loyalist and ex-republican prisoners in the audience as well as the general public. I think both ex-prisoner communities can agree for the benefit of the general public that it certainly wasn’t like this when we were last in here. The sample’s of art you will see here covers over three decades of the conflict and a message and lesson to us all.

As we stand on the eve of the 15th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement the beauty of these paintings and sketches also tells the story of thousands of young men, young families and loved ones who endured the suffering and penalties of incarceration during the course of the conflict. We must all tell our stories whether it be through art, literature, poetry or whatever medium so that future generations will never have to endure the suffrage of our generation.”

The Launch was attended by over 100 people from all walks of life. The Art Exhibition was open to the public with a great response.

“Aslan of Eastside”

A big thank you to Michael Stone and his partner Karen for creating and sharing a recent piece of art embracing the REACH Projects (www.reachproject.co.uk) goal in moving forward.

‘Aslan of Eastside’

“This kaleidoscopic work embraces East Belfast’s’ REACH philosophy of moving forward from the tragic past period of political & social upheaval – A strength and unity within the working classes of all cultures & traditions – Supporting the aspirational youth of the East with creative ability to excel in their endeavors in career, arts, sport or literature.

M. Stone 18″

In the past he spent time each week teaching art to teenagers in deprived areas of East Belfast, something he got great satisfaction from. Quoted by the Guardian in 2001. “Sure, I’m like some Rambo character to them when they first meet me and they ask questions about what I did. But I just tell them it isn’t big and clever to kill people. Then we get down to work, making things and doing things.

“There aren’t a lot of jobs or facilities in their area but they’re good kids and they’ve got to be encouraged to make the most of what they have.”

Progressive Financial Solutions NI

Yesterday evening our group met with Progressive Financial Solutions NI

They are regulated Financial Planners who provide professional services to working class Loyalism. Through their time in the financial world they seen many injustices and ill advice aimed at the working class who knew no better. The working class do not have access to the same expert advice and aid as wealthy people and have often been misguided.

Many of us will face big financial decisions during our lifetime, whether it be a Mortgage, insurances, debt management or savings. We are now in a position to seek advice of a like minded, honest and trustworthy working class company.

For more information please contact: