Nov 10

Those old £1 coins

Still have those old £1 coins and nowhere to spend them?

The Royal British Legion will be happy to accept the old £1 coin throughout the Poppy Appeal right up to Remembrance Sunday.

By wearing a poppy, you aren’t just remembering the fallen: you’re supporting a new generation of veterans and Service personnel that need our support.

Nov 08

African orphans benefit from LCC volunteers

A Carrick man has spoken of his involvement in a project assisting staff at an orphanage in Africa and the personal development he experienced.

The LCC team of volunteers pictured with David Campbell (LCC Chairman) and Bob Thompson.

Robert (Bertie) McWilliams has returned from Tanzania after spending a month there as part of a Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) delegation.

Bertie was one of eight volunteers from across Northern Ireland who travelled to the east African country under the stewardship of project leader, Bob Thompson.

The group spent four weeks working with the Kidzcare orphanage and schools in Tanzania from September 17. The purpose of the project was to promote team building within different loyalist communities, offer international work experience and personal development and to expose the volunteers to different cultures, religions and challenges, while at the same time benefitting the children of the orphanage. The aim was to make a difference both at home and in Africa.

Ahead of their departure, Bertie was unsure how his special diabetic dietary requirements were going to be met in Africa. He also questioned his participation in the project as he knew he would miss his six-year-old daughter a lot.

Bertie, who works as a window fitter/joiner, was able to use his skills in Africa to carry out maintenance at the orphanage.

Commenting on the duties he performed in Tanzania and his interaction with the orphans, the east Antrim man said: “Straight away we got stuck into general maintenance work around the orphanage and whilst doing that we met the beautiful kids that stayed there.

“All our hearts were touched as these kids really have nothing and they are the most happy and friendly wee kids I have ever met. We soon learned that these kids are very much the lucky ones compared to others, as they have a safe life and love at the orphanage and without the staff they would be desolate and abandoned.

“Listening to their individual life stories would melt the hardest heart. My thoughts went back to my own daughter and I realised just how well-off she is compared to these kids.”

Although most of their time was spent carrying out work around the orphanage, the LCC volunteers were able to experience African culture on a rare day off.

Bertie explained: “We spent our day off by having a beach day with the kids.

“We had a fantastic time enjoying the beach, the warm Indian Ocean and most of all having fun with the kids. The trip home on the bus was amazing with the kids entertaining us with selection of Swahili songs.”

On his return, Bertie, who said he would be keen to volunteer in Africa again, said: “I learned to respect a lot of things back home, such as hot water, food and family. Everyone realised just how well off we are back home and none of us will take things for granted again.

“We went to Africa as strangers and returned as a family of the LCC and we will support each other from now on. I now see things very differently and I am so glad I got the opportunity to do it.”

Bertie would like to thank everyone for their support, the sponsors, the LCC and its chairman David Campbell for the idea and Bob Thompson the project leader for putting it all together.

For more information about the orphanage and the project, check out



Micheal Martin


Why Micheal Martin is a key unionist ally against resurgent republicanism

If the DUP want to see off Sinn Fein, they need to adopt the tactics that defeated the IRA: hit them hard, often and from different angles


Fianna Fail TD Micheal Martin condemns ‘cult-like’ figures in Sinn Fein
Fianna Fail TD Micheal Martin condemns ‘cult-like’ figures in Sinn Fein

Courageous security forces crushed the Provisional IRA. If Northern Ireland is to prosper, courageous unionists need to crush Sinn Fein.

Tribalism is the Provos’ genome. They tried to destroy the state by keeping its two communities apart and distrustful of each other. Sinn Fein has the same genetics. The complete Provo set was violence and hypocrisy. They denied their dirtiest deeds, blamed others and silenced the opposition.

Effective security ended the terrorism, but not the duplicity. That was for a British Prime Minister.

But Tony Blair lacked the bottle to make the Provos atone for their atrocities. The Belfast Agreement was a job half-done. Local politicians must finish it.

The task is harder for 20 years of republican “rights and equality” fairytales that a political process moved out of the fiction section and turned into bestsellers.

From redefining victim to rewriting the past, the “Ourselves Alone” cult have got their way and flourished for it. Given an inch, they’ve taken a mile. Morality and the truth have been turned upside down.

Like the worst years of the Troubles for security, unionism’s mission looks impossible. The current big test is the Irish Language Act – yet another Sinn Fein-manufactured crisis and brightest red line in the current political impasse.

Sinn Fein politicised the Irish language to make it difficult for unionists to accept. Unionists would do well to copy the best bits of the security solution – hit the right spot hard, often and from different angles.

Provos were arrested with a regularity that shocked the army council far more than the nationalist community. Even on the rare occasions when the SAS killed “volunteers”, the nationalist reaction was muted.

As long as security’s attention was on the right people – and in the intelligence war we got very good at this – Catholics were not that bothered, especially those in impoverished areas living under the Provo jackboot.

An unpopular “armed struggle” could not cope. More “volunteers” were being put in prison than could be replaced. Having started the Troubles by declaring war on the state, they sued for peace. Loyalist terror groups followed. The crisis was over.

Or, as my friend, IRA leader, “informer” and author Sean O’Callaghan put it in describing local security forces: “They were of the soil, as their enemies in the IRA were, and they proved more resolute and fearless in protecting their children, homeland and way of life than those who opposed them. They were often frustrated by having to observe the rule of law, but it proved the right way. They were determined to outwit and outlast the IRA – and they did.”

The bad bits of the security solution are also relevant. Internment, for instance, was a poorly conceived catch-all mess that outraged nationalists and, as their anger swelled, so did the ranks of the Provos.

To hurt militant republicanism is to understand it. An example in the political arena is Micheal Martin. He hits Sinn Fein where it hurts. The Fianna Fail leader speaks in simple right and wrong terms, lifting the debate out of tribal politics and pulling Sinn Fein out of their comfort zone.

Sinn Fein’s fatal flaw is the past. Hypocrisy’s enemy is the truth.

Micheal Martin is repulsed by a republican reign of terror in the Troubles and condemns “cult-like” figures in Sinn Fein.

He slams Provo murders as inexcusable, recently highlighting the horrific case of Tom Oliver (43), a Co Louth farmer executed by the Provos in 1991.

They claimed he was a police informer. Tom Oliver’s family (he had seven children) was afraid to speak out in fear of retribution.

Torturing to death Tom Oliver was “politically motivated” and the offenders should not be pursued, according to Gerry Adams. Sinn Fein does not want any justice system to investigate Provo killings, but to investigate only the ones that they pick.

Micheal Martin has made it clear that Fianna Fail will not enter a coalition with Sinn Fein to form a government in the next election – a case of “do what I say, not what I do” when it comes to the “north”, which typifies the huge challenge facing the DUP.

Micheal Martin is a Jack Lynch, or Liam Cosgrave, Taoiseachs who detested the Provos. Not since Gerry Fitt, whom the Provos despised and went to great length to undermine, have unionists seen a nationalist leader like Micheal Martin. And, in my opinion, the SDLP and Northern Ireland have been the poorer for it.

On the crucial issue of the legacy of the past, the SDLP followed Sinn Fein’s orbit. Although the Adams factor has hardened the unionist mainstream, one criticism of the DUP is that a polarised electorate also suits them and, as a result, they were too cosy with their Sinn Fein partners when in government.

For many, only Jim Allister of the TUV was hitting Sinn Fein’s weak spot with any real force, or frequency.

Within unionism, agreeing an Irish Language Act is contentious. Refusing it, however, hurts the nationalist community, not Sinn Fein. This is the dilemma.

Not only is political courage about being fully committed to hitting the right target, but also taking care not to harm the other side, not rubbing their noses in it when your side has gained and not throwing cheap shots. The damage caused to David Trimble’s UUP is a reminder of just how hard this is to pull off. But it is the right way.

I have not felt threatened, or disadvantaged, by the Irish language, and I say this as someone who works in Maynooth alongside friends who are fluent Irish speakers. Indeed, the best television documentary I have watched is in Irish.

An Tost Fada (The Long Silence) is about a Protestant enclave in Co Cork that Tom Barry’s IRA persecuted in the War of Independence. The main character is George Salter (92), a Church of Ireland canon and fluent Irish speaker.

I met George at a screening of An Tost Fada at a history festival in Skibbereen and was inspired by his faith and grace. Before it started, an academic handed out leaflets against it – I took several – and, when it ended, a Shinner went on a rant.

I am not concerned with the Irish language being formalised in law and sensibly implemented. My concern is that it will be corrosively divisive. In other words, it becomes an extortionately expensive, unequal and highly controversial statutory arrangement, because this is what happened for a similar Sinn Fein red line on the past that has, effectively, silenced negative views of the Provos.

The DUP are undoubtedly aware of this in contemplating how to sell a deal that includes an Irish language Act to their constituents. I am sure Arlene Foster will want the unionist community – particularly working-class Protestant areas – back-paid for a political process that has heavily favoured nationalists, in addition to moving forward on a fairer footing.

Hypocrisy is crippling the political system and Northern Ireland, holding back everything, from health and education to the economy and culture. To halt this, regardless of Stormont rule, or direct rule, a mandatory coalition, or voluntary coalition, the set-up for the past needs changed to a level playing field and the ashes of Gerry Adams’ Trojan horses scattered on it. And, if a crisis shelves Stormont again, let it be for a red line that reads: MLAs who condone murder cannot get into government.

As I said, it takes nerve.

  • Dr William Matchett is the author of Secret Victory: The Intelligence War That Beat The IRA. He is a senior researcher at the Edward M Kennedy Institute for Conflict Prevention at Maynooth University.

Belfast Telegraph

Reformation with Brian Ervine

Yesterday evening the group hosted a special guest speaker, Brian Ervine, who delivered a very enjoyable and informative talk on the Reformation with this year being the 500th anniversary.

Brian is a playwright, songwriter and teacher and taught English and Religion at Orangefield High School in east Belfast. A former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party Brian also presented “Dalriada”, a local radio programme focused on Ulster-Scots culture.

The talk covered a wide range including the effect the Reformation still has today in Society. What Martin Luther discovered in the Bible pulled him out of despair and made him feel he had “entered paradise itself through open gates”. Nothing about that message has changed – or lost its power to brighten lives today.

Reformation Day

Happy Reformation Day?

Today marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s actions at Wittenberg prompting the beginning of the Protestant Reformation which remade Christianity in the West.


On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther is said to have nailed his 95 Theses to the wooden doors of the local church in Wittenberg, Germany. In his theses, Luther attacked the Catholic church’s corruption and the indulgence-for-sale system that had grown popular.

The impact of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation has been enormous on global Christianity. In contrast to the extra-biblical traditions and works-based practices of Roman Catholicism, Luther called the Church back to the good news of salvation by grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Luther believed the Word of God was the supreme authority for the Christian faith, rather than tradition or papal decrees. In the process of bringing the Scriptures to the common person, Luther translated the Bible into German, published numerous books and sermons of biblical teachings, and composed numerous hymns based on biblical themes. Many of his hymns are still sung today.

Luther was brought to trial before the church, and the court attempted to force him to recant. Luther’s response is often quoted: “I cannot choose but adhere to the Word of God, which has possession of my conscience; nor can I possibly, nor will I even make any recantation, since it is neither safe nor honest to act contrary to conscience! Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God! Amen.”





From Germany, the Protestant Reformation expanded through Europe, influencing the work of John Calvin in Geneva, Ulrich Zwingli in Zurich, and John Knox in Scotland. The Reformation Luther led also sparked the Anabaptist (free church) movement and the English Reformation. These movements, in turn, influenced the spread of Christianity to the Americas and throughout the world where European exploration took place. South Africa, India, Australia, and New Zealand all felt the impact of Luther’s hammer in Wittenberg.

Robert Rothwell has noted, “Today, Luther’s legacy lives on in the creeds and confessions of Protestant bodies worldwide. As we consider his importance this Reformation Day, let us equip ourselves to be knowledgeable proclaimers and defenders of biblical truth. May we be eager to preach the Gospel of God to the world and thereby spark a new reformation of church and culture.”

Reformation Day remains a central rallying point for all of those who choose to follow Christ by faith according to His Word. The holiday commemorates the actions of a man who was willing to stand against the ideas of his day and to present God’s Word as our guide for salvation (John 3:16) and Christian living.

The reformation was and still is about the Lord.

“In short, I will preach it, teach it, write it, but I will constrain no one by force, for faith must come freely without compulsion. Take myself as an example. I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philipp and Amsdorf, the Word … did everything.”

Bertys Story

Now that the recent LCC Tanzania project is over the guys are now settled back home and sharing their stories. Below is a member of Dalaradia.

Bertys story –

“Hello, My Name is Robert McWilliams, Bertie to my friends. I am a loyalist from a working-class background in Carrickfergus.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to travel to Africa as part of a team of other loyalists from different working-class areas and communities represented by the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) to undertake a project working at an orphanage and schools that belong to Kidzcare Tanzania.

I decided to sign up for this challenge. Prior to travel we were all given training in various skills including first aid, CPR, child protection and even basic building skills and the project leader Bob told us about the good and bad of Africa.

As the time for departure grew closer I began to question my decision to volunteer for the project and how much I was going to miss my beautiful little girl Derbi, who is only 6 years old.

Finally, the time to travel came around and having only met the other team members a few times in meetings and training nights I was more than nervous on what to expect. I was particularly nervous on the food and hygiene as both these are an issue with me, despite Bobs assurance that things would be manageable.







So, at 5am on a cold and damp morning on 17th September we all met, had a brief breakfast, loaded up the minibus which was generously supplied for our trip to Dublin airport and off we went. From the moment our adventure began, all the lads got on well together and the “banter” was good. I started feeling more comfortable as I am sure the others did as well but still I had no idea what to expect in the next four weeks.

After an exhausting flight, flying via Istanbul we arrived at 3am in a warm, clammy Dar es Salaam and after a small run in with local customs (over donated football boots and kits we were bringing) Bob got us cleared through and unto the bus waiting to take us the 60 Kms to the orphanage. To say the roads were bad would be an understatement. After a couple of hours in the bus freezing as the air-conditioning was on full blast, we arrived at the Orphanage in the dark. By now all exhausted, we settled down for a few hours rest in our communal dorm and sleeping under a mosquito net was strange. After a few hours rest we got up and explored the orphanage assessing what needed to be done and whom would be the best to do it. I am a window fitter/ joiner and very aware of the building trade so we split into groups. Straight away we got stuck into general maintenance work around the orphanage and whilst doing that we met the beautiful kids that stayed there. All our hearts were touched as these kids really have nothing and they are the most happy and friendly wee kids I have ever met. We soon learned that these kids are very much the lucky ones compared to others, as they have a safe life and love at the orphanage and without “Mama Mary” and the staff they would be desolate and abandoned. Listening to their individual life stories would melt the hardest heart. My thoughts went back to my own daughter and I realised just how well off she is compared to these kids.

As the first week drew to a close I was struggling with the food and being a diabetic it was affecting me mentally and physically and the rest of the group could see that and being honest I feel that’s when the bond began, Guys I had never known before where going out of their way and helping me in any way they could. We were building the foundations of trust and friendship…. Pretty soon, with a little pushing I began to eat like everyone else and my days of being a fussy bugger were coming to an end. Our main objective was to help the kids and this became our motivation.

The team split into two, one group went off to paint a local school which Kidzcare had built, whilst the other group stayed at the orphanage and carried on with the maintenance and interacting with the kids.

We spent our day off by having a beach day with the kids what a time we had enjoying the beach, the warm Indian Ocean and most of all having fun with the kids… The trip home on the bus was amazing with the kids entertaining us with selection of Swahili songs.

By the time the second week began we all knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and that’s when we became a real team, helping each other emotionally and physically through what was a difficult and challenging time, with difficult living conditions compared to back home. we all worked hard we started to see and feel that we had achieved success and had given the kids help and hope as they are all bright kids.

I personally learned to respect a lot of things back home, such as hot water (all we had was a cold-water shower and only if water was available) food and of course family. Everyone realised just how well off we are back home and none would take things for granted again.
I know it sounds a cliché but the fact is we went to Africa as strangers and returned as a family of the LCC who will support each other from now on.

Now back home, I see things very differently and I am so glad that I got the opportunity to do it, my only regret is that everyone will not get this opportunity but if you do, you need to grasp it …..
Would I do it again? Hell yes!!! The feeling of achievement and the sheer thrill of helping others is like no other feeling ever and to top it all I have made 9 new lifelong friends…
Finally, I would like to thank everyone for your support, all the sponsors, The LCC and its chairman Mr. David Campbell for the idea and Bob Thompson our project leader for putting it all together. Mama Mary, of Kidzcare Tanzania who is an amazing woman with the largest heart of anyone I have known and who deserves everyone’s support.”

Brave new world

Over four years and across seven hours of television William Crawley has travelled to America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia to tell the stories of some remarkable Ulster-Scots men and women who made their mark in the New World. Now he returns to home soil to find out what those stories reveal about the Ulster-Scots diaspora as a whole and how the loss of sons and daughters, neighbours and friends over generations has made emigration part of our story and of this world, Back Home


Oct 26

Row on Row, East Belfast

Row on Row East Belfast, which Dalaradia take part in every year – starts on 5th November.

To mark the opening a scooter cavalcade will leave Belfast City Hall at 1.30 and the above date with their arrival at Row on Row, Pitt Park, Newtownards Road being around 2pm.


Come and see them arrive on what will be a great occasion.

Also, there will be a community service on Wednesday 8th November at 3.30 and we would particularly encourage community groups, school kids etc to attend.

There will also be two night time Remembrance events on the 9th and 10th November.

All welcome – Lest we forget

PBS – Martin Luther – Complete documentary

Oct 18

Finally the LCC Tanzania Project challenge is over.

Finally the LCC Tanzania Project challenge is over.
All arrived home safe and sound yesterday evening and with the exception of a few mosquito bites everyone is in good health and condition.
Berty, a member of Dalaradia, remarked “the trip started with three groups of strangers and ended with one group of family”.
The month away raised some challenges but as each challenge was overcome the bond of friendship grew stronger. The children of the orphanage touched their hearts and have shaped their lives for the future.
This is something we hope to build on for the future helping less fortune people. One very important aspect of motivation is the willingness to stop and to look at things that no one else has bothered to look at. Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
Well done to everyone involved, you are a credit to your community.
For more information on this project check out: