Joint letter: ‘It is not just nationalism that is seeking truth, rights and equality’

We the undersigned desire a transparent and inclusive debate concerning rights, truth, equality and civil liberties and in so doing challenge assumptions that such values are not embedded within civic unionism, pluralism and other identities.

We are motivated by the desire to build a society for the betterment of everyone.

Signatory Dr John Dunlop, former Presbyterian moderator

Signatory Dr John Dunlop, former Presbyterian moderator

This cannot happen when such a commitment is perceived as being vested in one community or political persuasion.

We find it frustrating and puzzling that civic unionism, pluralists and other forms of civic leadership have been rendered invisible in many debates focused on rights and responsibilities.

It has reduced our capacity to be heard and undermines the power of reconciliation to shift society away from stale and limiting notions of identity.

We have worked for peace and reconciliation and in so doing have had open and transparent engagement with civic nationalism.

Signatory Dawn Purvis

Signatory Dawn Purvis

That has included recognition of the need for equality and most importantly the urgent need for polarised communities in Northern Ireland to reconcile and deal with barriers to a better future.

To achieve this requires the recognition that withholding truth presents as such.

This is not unique to any institution or section within our society but where it is a selective process, healing a pernicious and destabilising past remains as a challenge to us all.

Civic unionism, and other identities are not resistant to claims of equality and full citizenship.

Signatory the artist Brian John Spencer

Signatory the artist Brian John Spencer

These identities are central to the development of an authentically fair and tolerant society.

We wish to unite, not divide, and in encouraging transparency we call upon civic nationalism and others to engage with us in frank and fulsome debates about the many values and beliefs that are commonly shared and are vital to transforming the issues that we face.

Signed: Brian Acheson; Ian Acheson; Irwin Armstrong; Arthur Aughey; Stuart Aveyard; John Barry; Doug Beattie; John Bew; Elizabeth Boyd; Gavin Boyd; William Boyd; Glenn Bradley; Michael Briggs; Daniel Brown; Jonathan Burgess; Paul Burgess; Jason Burke; Alison Campbell; Stevie Campbell; Lesley Carroll; Jim Crothers; Jonny Currie; Vince Curry; Glenda Davies; James Dingley; Brian Dougherty; Jeffrey Dudgeon; John Dunlop; Janice Dunwoody; Aaron Edwards; William Ennis; Brian Ervine; Linda Ervine; Isabella Evangelisti; Neil Faris; Albert Flanagan; Dean Farquhar; Stewart Finn; John W. Foster; James Gallacher; Richard Garland; Brian Garrett; James Greer; Trevor Hamilton; Barry Hazley; Helen Henderson; Maureen Hetherington; Chris Hudson; Fiona Hutchinson; Mark Irvine; Kathryn Johnston; Georgina Kee-McCarter; James Kee; Julia Kee; Lauren Kerr; John Kyle; Paul Leeman; David McAloanen; Chris McGimpsey; Shirley McMichael; Lesley Macaulay; William Matchett; Andrew Mawhinney; Lindsay Millar; Lewis Montgomery; Derek Moore; Pamela Moore; Steve Moore; Gareth Mulvenna; Mike Nesbitt; George Newell; Hannah Niblock; Russell Orr; Jenny Palmer; John Palmer; Len Peace; Claire Pierson; Andy Pollak; Catherine Pollock; Dawn Purvis; David Ramsey; Chris Reid; Stafford Reynolds; Trevor Ringland; John Shackels; David Shaw; Stephanie Shaw; Peter Shirlow; Frank Shivers; Philip Smith; David Smyth; Neil Southern; Brian Spencer; David Stewart; John Stewart; Robin Stewart; Kyle Thompson; Brian W. Walker; Garth Watson; David Whiteside; Robert Williamson; Steve Williamson; Andrew Wilson; James Wilson; Terence Wright

Feb 20

Think of unionist feelings on language act

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has poured cold water on Sinn Féin demands for a stand-alone Irish language act, warning it has to be conscious of the feelings of unionists.

“If anybody seriously believes that you’re going to convince the loyalist people in the Shankill that they should have Irish signs – they’ll be waiting,” he told RTÉ’s ‘Claire Byrne Live’ last night.

He said the act “can’t be seen as a victory and we’re going to shove it down their (unionists) throats”.

“I think that the message has been received so, in fairness to Sinn Féin, it has seemed to receive that but it has to be seen and understood, otherwise loyalists and unionists are going to get at Arlene, which makes her position untenable.”

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney met new Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald and her deputy, Michelle O’Neill, at Government Buildings last night.

They spoke for around 90 minutes and agreed on their united commitment to the Good Friday Agreement.

Bertie Ahern poured cold water on Sinn Féin demands for a stand-alone Irish language act. Photo: Steve Humphreys 2 2
Bertie Ahern poured cold water on Sinn Féin demands for a stand-alone Irish language act. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Both sides also agreed any move towards direct rule from Westminster would be highly regressive and something Dublin could not countenance.

Mr Varadkar spoke to British Prime Minister Theresa May on the phone following the meeting. He reiterated Dublin’s “firm position” that the Good Friday Agreement must be implemented in full, and that the Irish Government does not want to see the introduction of direct rule in Northern Ireland.

A Downing Street spokesperson last night said Mrs May told Mr Varadkar that she believed “there was scope for agreement” and reiterated that it was still her government’s priority to get devolution up and running again. Both leaders agreed to remain in close contact.

Earlier, Mr Coveney had warned that the re-imposition of direct rule would “rip the heart” from the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Coveney is travelling to New York and Washington this afternoon for a series of meetings with the Trump administration. He is due to give an address at Columbia University on Brexit and give the keynote speech on the Good Friday Agreement at a special event in New York entitled Ireland’s ’20 Years of Peace’.

Mr Ahern also took a pop at Mrs May last night. He said she has been preoccupied with addressing the various battles within her own party which has distracted her from her responsibilities in Northern Ireland.

“I think Theresa May has not given enough time to Northern Ireland as she’s trying to keep about five sides of her own cabinet together.

“It’s not good enough to breeze in and meet nobody – that’s not negotiating at all.”

Irish Independent


Feb 16

Remembering Stevie McCrea

Today our group remember our friend and comrade Stevie McCrea, fondly known as “X-ray”.

29 years to the day on 16th February 1989 Stephen had just finished his last day of work at the Belfast enterprise zone on the “work out” ACE scheme.

Stevie, who was sent to Long Kesh on Halloween Night in 1972 went on to spend the next fifteen years of his young life in those bleak, soul-destroying cages and was not re-involved in any paramilitary activities upon realease. It is well known that there was a strict policy that ‘Lifers’ are not to be involved in current activities. Stevie, while in prison was involved in a marathon escape bid from Long Kesh Camp. At the time, he was being held in Loyalist Compound 19 as a Special Category prisoner. An ‘x-ray’ van was driven into the Camp for the purpose of taking chest x-rays of all prisoners. Stevie realised that the attending Prison Officers were not monitoring the van and making a spontaneous decision, seized the moment and dived underneath the van and climbed onto the axle stand. During the head count that evening one of his comrades done the ‘Colditz Shuffle’ and was counted twice covering for him. Stevie endured two long and freezing days and nights lying under the ‘x-ray’ van wearing only a thin denim jacket and jeans. On the third evening he managed to climb inside the van itself and conceal himself in a cupboard. When leaving the camp the following day it successfully got through the security checkpoint at the Prison Officer’s gate but Stevie was discovered by a young Squaddie at the main gate. He was hastily taken to the punishment cells and held for three days in solitary confinement.

Upon his release from ‘solitary’ Stevie returned to the Compound and from that day on became known as ‘x-ray’ McCrea.

Stevie, in his short period of freedom posed no threat to anyone and sought to re build his life settling down and enjoying the remainder of his life in peace.

On that day after cashing his last pay cheque, he and several of his work colleagues went for a lunch-time drink in the local Orange Cross Club. The drink, was to bid their friend farewell after working together for the past year.

At 1.15 p.m the security buzzer sounded. As the door opened, three IPLO gunmen brushed inside and ordered the men in the room to stand at the bar. In an effort to get people to let their guard down during those murderous days, they pretended it was a robbery. When everyone lined up as instructed the gunmen opened fire indiscriminately. Stevie, in this moment of chaos, thought only of his friends safety. One friend described the scene:

‘I stood in line whenever the first shot was fired and all of a sudden Stevie McCrea dived in front of me. The shots rang out and we all hit the floor. By this time the gunmen had run out of the room and we all stood up again. That is, except for two other men and Stevie McCrea. He had saved my life alright but lost his own in doing so’.

Two days later Stevie passed away at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. Upon realising they had murdered a former Loyalist prisoner the IPLO issued a gloating statement in which they claimed to have singled Stevie out for attack, a blatant lie. The truth is that Stevie had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and it was nothing but blatant sectarianism.

We are free to express ourselves.
We are free of oppression.
We are free of fear.
We all owe our freedom to them.

Honour – Service – Sacrifice

Lamh Derg Abu

Feb 14

Remembering a friend – Jim Anderson

The group would like to offer our deepest sympathy to the Anderson family on the sudden passing of our friend and comrade Jim Anderson.

We owe our freedom to those men and women who have served their country and its interests in time of need. Not for glory, nor riches, but for their people.

Lest we forget – Lamh Dearg Abu

Feb 02

20 Years On: A Conflict Frozen in Time

Yesterday evening the group attended the 4 Corners Festival – “20 Years On: A Conflict Frozen in Time” event at St Michaels Church, Shankill.


Chaired by Jackie Redpath, the panel included Martin Snoddon, a former Loyalist Prisoner who is now involved in capacity building and innovative approaches to conflict resolution. William Mc Quiston, a former Loyalist prison spokesperson who is now involved in grassroots peacebuilding. Former Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission; Rev Ken Newell. Monica McWilliams, a founder of the Women’s Coalition and journalist Barney Rowan.

The church was filled to capacity to hear the discussion centered around the instrumental part Loyalists played in the Peace Process and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Without whom, it may not have happened.

Many faceless men worked tirelessly behind the scenes across Northern Ireland along with more public figures like Winston Churchill Rea, William “Plum ” Smith, David Irvine, Augustus “Gusty” Spence and Gary McMichael.

Through the years many have purposely ignored the key part they played in securing the agreement having been at the forefront of negotiating and bringing Loyalist groups into the peace process and politicising them. Ill point you in the direction of an old article listing “Key Players in the peace process” – – Quite a few missing wouldn’t you say?

Today Loyalists face constant accusations of criminality that dominate the image of Loyalism; an image, it must be said, largely imposed by others, who prefer to insist that Loyalist communities are places where thugs and intimidation are accepted as a way of life. This is not the case. The men named above worked to guarantee peace and we, continuing their legacy, must continue their work for the future of our children and grand children.

Loyalism played a big part in this country’s past, it must play an even greater part for its future.

Burns Night – 26/1/2018

Friday the 26th January seen our group celebrating Robert Burns night with our annual Burns Supper. For more information please click the following link –

Happy Robert Burns day

Happy Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns day folks.


On this day Robert Burns was born 259 years ago, in 1759. His birthday is celebrated around the world, our own group will be celebrating tomorrow evening with a Burns night supper.


He is regarded as Scotland’s national poet: an icon who has loomed large in Ulster/Scottish culture and consciousness ever since his early death at the age of 37. Arguably his best known work is the song Auld Lang Syne: a long established feature of New Year celebrations in every corner of the world settled by the Scottish diaspora (which means, in effect, every corner of the world).


Jan 15

Naive Alliance

Naive Alliance has become a Sinn Fein patsy in republican takeover of Belfast City Hall

They vote together and they care only about so-called progressive policies, claims Ruth Dudley Edwards

Alliance leader Naomi Long got involved in Twitter row over Kingsmill cartoon

“What has happened to the Alliance Party, which used to pride itself on its independence and its commitment to democratic values? Here are just three recent disturbing examples of how far it has fallen.

First, in September the UUP’s Jeff Dudgeon, who had fought for a permanent memorial in the grounds of City Hall to the 1,000 victims of the Blitz, admitted defeat.

Since Nazi bombs had killed Catholics and Protestants alike, it didn’t seem a contentious issue.

It was, however, to Sinn Fein – which is ambivalent about the Second World War because the IRA supported Germany.

Cunningly, it linked the Dudgeon proposal to its request for a statue of Belfast woman Winifred Carney, who was with her boss James Connolly in Dubin throughout the Easter Rising.

Alliance endorsed the proposals being dealt with collectively, thus scuppering any agreement.

Mr Dudgeon was disappointed but not surprised.

“The Alliance Party, has, yet again, taken sides with Sinn Fein and turned the statues into a contentious issue,” he said.

“They want conflict, so they can sit above it, so they can resolve it. It’s a peculiar facet of liberal terror.”

Michael Long, leader of the Alliance on the council, accused him of “showing his prejudice in his comments about our party’s voting habits”.

Having “actually done some research of figures rather than assumptions”, he said, the party had found that in terms of recorded votes over the past two or three years, “half the time we voted with Sinn Fein and half the time we voted with the DUP”.

But that was wholly untrue, according to DUP councillor John Hussey, who checked the voting record of the previous two years and found Alliance had voted 22 times with Sinn Fein against the DUP and only 8 times the other way around.

Then there was the amendment to standing order No. 30, which was proposed in December in the strategic policy and resources committee by Sinn Fein’s Charlene O’Hara and seconded by Alliance’s Sian O’Neill.

“A Member shall not impute motives or use offensive expression in reference to any person or section of society, including any such expression that shows contempt in relation to their race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious belief, age or disability,” it said.

As Mr Dudgeon – yes, him again – pointed out, this would, for instance, preclude anyone from being rude about the motives of bankers for closing bank branches.

It’s a charter for people who want to stifle free speech.

At present Sinn Fein and Alliance are propelling it through the system.

Then last week we had the drama of Mr Long’s wife Naomi, leader of Alliance, Barry McElduff, a brilliant cartoon by Brian John Spencer and tweets by the DUP’s Christopher Stalford and the UUP’s Doug Beattie.

Mrs Long tweeted Mr McElduff after he had deleted his disgusting video, asking him what he thought he was doing and asking if he had made any apology to those “deeply hurt by your antics whether deliberate or not?”

Mr Spencer, who was appalled by the hurt done to the Kingsmill victims and the hypocrisy of Sinn Fein in continuing to lecture others about its “red lines” on various issues, produced his magnificent, savage cartoon depicting the Kingsmill van with 10 lines of blood leading straight to Gerry Adams bellowing about equality.

Among the thousands who retweeted it were MLAs Stalford and Beattie, both of whom were pompously ticked off by Mrs Long for engaging in “irresponsible, inflammatory and insulting behaviour which is unbecoming of their role”.

The Alliance and Sinn Fein Twitter mobs joined in, and because of a request from a Kingsmill relative, both politicians deleted their tweet.

Yet other relatives and other victims welcomed the cartoon. Alliance has become the party of identity politics and virtue signalling and Sinn Fein has taken full advantage of its naivety to use its support to help conquer Belfast City Council for republican ends.

Shinners may eulogise murderers, boycott Westminster and bring down Stormont, but hey, to Alliance, they’re preferable to dinosaurs who disapprove of gay marriage and think free speech matters, even if it hurts people’s feelings.

Someone should explain to the party that it is being eaten by a crocodile.”

Belfast Telegraph –

An outrage

We call for Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduffs resignation after posting an absolutely outrages video mocking the Kingsmill Massacre on its 42nd anniversary.
Kingsmill is a well-known brand of bread in Northern Ireland. It shares a name with the south Armagh village that witnessed one of the most notorious incidents of the Troubles in 1976 when IRA gunmen stopped a van carrying Protestant textile workers on their way home where they were lined up at the side of the road and shot. Are we to believe this was purely coincidence and not intentional? Please do not insult our intelligence Mr McElduff, stand down and hang your head in shame.

Clean up

A big well done to the 18th Newtownabbey 2008s, a team Dalaradia sponsors, for their local cleanup.

A community cleanup brings volunteers together to clean, repair, and improve public spaces or other areas that have been neglected, vandalized, or misused. Well done guys!