Sep 12

Progressive Unionist Party Response to Red Hand Commando request to be removed from list of Proscribed organisations

“The Progressive Unionist Party of Northern Ireland welcomes today’s statement from the Red Hand Commando.

We understand the hurt that has been felt as a result of the troubles and we understand how difficult a step this may be for some. However, having shown “True and abject remorse” for its actions, those associated with the RHC have led by example in demobilising and reintegrating with the wider community.

They have engaged in activities that promote and support peace, build capacity within their community and positively engaged in guiding the loyalist community away from violence and paramilitary activity.

These actions should be encouraged and supported by all as part of our reconciliation process and serve as an example for other paramilitary organisations to follow.”

Sep 12

Deproscription application: Loyalist Communities Council statement in full

‘The Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) welcomes and supports the application to the Home Secretary by representatives of the RHC for their organisation to be removed from the list of UK proscribed organisations.

One of the key reasons behind the formation of the LCC was to assist the three main loyalist groupings in their transformation away from paramilitarism and to work constructively for the benefit of loyalist and unionist communities.

It is many years since the RHC was engaged in violent or criminal activity. Its leaders and members have supported the peace process and have led many initiatives to regenerate deprived loyalist areas, and promote loyalist and unionist heritage and culture.

The LCC hopes that HM Government will recognize that this application is made sincerely and in good faith, and will respond positively.

It is further hoped that this course being taken by the RHC can lay out a road map for the transformation of loyalist groups in general, and that this action might be followed in due course by the other two main loyalist organisations.

Sep 12

Deproscription application: Red Hand Commando statement in full


Red Hand Commando

‘On Wednesday 6th September 2017 an application was submitted under section 4 of the Terrorism Act (2000) for the deproscription of the Red Hand Commando with the British Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

On behalf of our organisation we echo the words of Gusty Spence in offering true and abject remorse to all innocent victims of the conflict here.

Some of those present for yesterdays statement: Robin Stewart, Community Development Officer at Reach UK, Jim Wilson, Chairman of Reach UK, and David Campbell of the Loyalist Communities Council

Some of those present for yesterdays statement: Robin Stewart, Community Development Officer at Reach UK, Jim Wilson, Chairman of Reach UK, and David Campbell of the Loyalist Communities Council

We as an organisation recognise the continued support of the men and women within our membership, without this support we could not have achieved helping to secure the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom or help maintain a peaceful and democratic society we all enjoy today.

When coming from such a small area of concentrated conflict the transformation process is not an easy one. How we deal with it lies within the balance of leadership throughout the years of troubles into more peaceful times.

Along the road we have travelled we must recognise the influential input of those persons within loyalism who have offered us leadership, direction and a wealth of knowledge enabling us to play our part in moving Northern Ireland to a more peaceful and stable society.

Particularly we mention William ‘Plum’ Smith and Winston Churchill Rea for their guidance to what we have become today. Also we must mention Gusty Spence, David Ervine, Ken Gibson, Billy Mitchell, Jim McDonald, John McMichael and Gary McMichael, many are no longer with us but thanks to their bravery and courage the loyalist community was able to deliver peace.

There are many more names we could add to the above (contrary to the media perspective) who have worked for peace within loyalist communities; however the list would be endless.

In closing we would encourage all those working within loyalist areas to continue their sterling efforts in helping to maintain peaceful resolutions to many of the serious issues which continue to blight our community against a backdrop of those mindless few who refuse to recognise the on-going positive framework within loyalism.

The Peace is harder to win than the War.

R.H.C – Lamh Derg Abu

Sep 12

12th September 2017 – First Loyalist group applies to Home Secretary to be legalised.

First Loyalist group applies to Home Secretary to be legalised.

A loyalist paramilitary group has formally submitted an application to be legalised – in what could be the first of a series of requests to allow former terrorist groups to operate openly.

Members of the Red Hand Commando (RHC) travelled from Belfast to the Home Office in London last Wednesday to submit a formal application to be removed from the list of proscribed terrorist organisations which are outlawed in the UK.

The Red Hand Commando has a bloody past  but decommissioned its weapons in 2009

In a statement to the News Letter yesterday and an interview with this newspaper, members of the group echoed the words of former UVF leader Gusty Spence, “offering true and abject remorse to all the innocent victims of the conflict”.

The application has been made under Section 4 of the Terrorism Act (2000) which allows for members of a banned group to contact the government to request deproscription without themselves facing the threat of being charged with membership.

The initiative is being supported by the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC), the umbrella organisation set up by Tony Blair’s former chief of staff Jonathan Powell to steer paramilitaries away from criminality, and the LCC’s chairman, David Campbell, said that Mr Powell supported the application to the Home Secretary. Mr Campbell argued that in retaining the paramilitary name, rather than disbanding, it would be harder for dissidents to seek to revive it at a future point.

In an interview yesterday in east Belfast, some members of the group indicated that if the application is rejected by Home Secretary Amber Rudd then they are likely to challenge it in the High Court via a judicial review.

Former RHC prisoner Jim Wilson said that the group was aware that it had “hurt people in the past” but said: “We can’t change the past, but we can change the future.” When asked if they could provide an assurance to victims of the group that, if legalised, they would not use that platform to glorify Troubles atrocities, Mr Wilson said that such glorification would “absolutely not” happen.

He said: “This organisation is not about glorifying murder, bombings, shootings – it happened in a conflict that we got engaged in as young lads and it’s not something that people want to run about and gloat about and to have it pushed into people’s faces.

“That’s not what deprosciption is about – it’s about allowing us to move to the next phase which is out of conflict, away from what happened in this society and all those people that were hurt by our organisation, Gusty Spence couldn’t have said it any better – it is true and abject remorse. But we were brought up in a society where there was violence and young lads from our Protestant community engaged in it and that’s it – the organisation couldn’t be any clearer; it’s sorry for the people that had to be hurt in this conflict.”

Members of the group – several of whom declined to be identified – told the News Letter yesterday that they saw the application to be proscribed as “momentous” and a chance for them to openly work to support loyalist communities in areas such as education and mental health.

They declined to give estimates of the group’s current membership but that it is predominantly based in the east of Northern Ireland. One member used the phrase “old comrades’ association’ to describe what they see the group becoming if it is legalised.

All of those present were adamant that they do not want to go into politics but would lobby “for a better society”.

One of the veteran members said that the application, to which the Home Secretary must respond within 90 days, was “a sincere and genuine effort – there’s no money involved in it”.

The RHC, one of the smaller loyalist paramilitary groups which has long been aligned with the larger UVF, was established early in the Troubles in 1972 and has been outlawed since the following year.

Many of those murdered by the group were Catholic civilians – or Protestants who it mistook for Catholics – with the last murder being one of its own members in 2003.

But the group says that it has not been involved in any terrorist or criminal activity for more than a decade.

In its statement, the group still implicitly defended its role during the Troubles and presented itself as having played a role in securing Northern Ireland’s place within the Union, saying that its members had played a role in “helping to secure the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom”.

It said that “the transformation process isn’t an easy one” and praised named loyalists including the late Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine and Winston ‘Winkie’ Churchill Rea. Last year police charged the 65-year-old Rea with two murders – dating back to 1989 and 1990 – and membership of the RHC.

Mr Campbell said: “It’s important that people retain the ‘title deeds’ to organisations because if they folded up completely tomorrow then the next day you would have others with a malign intent taking them up again; you’ve seen it on the republican side.”

Yesterday a veteran RHC member who spoke to this newspaper derided “Facebook warriors” and their “glorification of something that might or might not have happened”.

He said: “If we were legal we could go round schools and tell them ‘don’t do what I did – people lost their homes, lost their families, lost their children, could never get a job again’; tell them the hard truth; the reality of life.”

Another individual referred to educating young people who may see paramilitarism as glamorous about “all the mental problems” associated with former paramilitaries.

One member of the group said: “The membership is unified and the organisation is able to speak with one voice.”

When asked whether the group would seek to restart recruiting if it was successful in being deproscribed it, Mr Wilson said: “No.”

He went on to say: “It is not about standing out and putting a badge on your breast – I don’t think we’d maybe even in certain circumstances use the badge or whatever because we do know, and we’re not silly people, that we have hurt people in the past.

“It’s not about that; it’s about the deproscription of the organisation because it has engaged in all things that are positive in its community…there’s things in our community that we accept it’s not productive for us to do because at the end of the day we’ve been involved in a conflict. Once we’re deproscribed it’s more about us being able to utilise the name and be able to work under that banner for positive means. If it’s offensive or it’s offending people, in certain circumstances we would not be using that.”

A member of the group said: “If we’re working to a day when there are no paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, it wouldn’t make sense to recruit paramilitaries.”

Mr Wilson said that they now recruit young people to “our Somme societies or the REACH project”, but “not recruiting in the way that recruiting used to be which is taking the oath, which hasn’t happened in this organisation in 10 years”.

When asked how they would feel about the Provisional IRA being legalised, Mr Wilson said that the IRA officially no longer exists but that it has been implicated in murders as recently as 2015.

When asked what would happen if their bid failed, Mr Wilson said: “We’ve done this only because we think it’s the right thing to do; we’ll continue to do it because it’s the right thing to do. But you must remember that there’s other people out there who are looking at this to see if it’s possible for loyalism to get their place in the sun.”

Sep 01

The attempt to revive Irish as a common tongue has been a costly failure in the Republic

“Two recent news stories will be of interest to anyone who is following the debate regarding the perceived need for an Irish language act in Northern Ireland.

Firstly, the cost of Irish translation in the European Parliament is almost twice the average rate for all other languages should set a few alarm bells ringing. Irish costs €43 per page rather than the average cost of €22.

Indeed, the cost of Irish translation is deemed to be the reason why the European Parliament’s budget for translators is estimated to be €3.7 million by the end of the year and has already required a bail-out.

Secondly, we have learned that the Bank of Ireland has removed the Irish language option from its ATMs because fewer than 1% of customers choose to compete transactions in Irish.

This confirms two facts. Irish – in the EU at any rate – is an expensive item.

Furthermore, the actual use of Irish in the Republic in terms of daily life and business is miniscule – less than 1%.

Almost a century ago the founders of the new Irish Free State sought to promote a Gaelic revival, including making the language compulsory in schools and for public sector jobs.

One hundred years on, with millions of pounds, punts and euro spent, and millions of teaching hours devoted to millions of children being forced to learn the language, its fair and reasonable to assess that the impact has been a failure in terms of reviving the language as a common tongue.

Furthermore, the Irish language is already respected and recognised in Northern Ireland.

It is freely taught in those schools where there is demand for it and already receives generous public funding.

According to the 2011 UK Census, in Northern Ireland 10.65% claim to have some knowledge of Irish, 6.05% claim they can speak the language to varying degrees but only 0.2% use Irish as their main home language.

With all this in mind, Gerry Adams – and the Alliance and Green parties for that matter – need to explain why Northern Ireland needs an act to promote the Irish language and why there will be no return to devolution if there is no Irish language act.

They need to explain what exactly are they trying to achieve.

With our health service and education system currently being forced to make unexpected cutbacks, is it really worth stopping the restoration of devolution for this?”

Nicholas Trimble, UUP councillor Lisburn & Castlereagh

Sep 01


Appeal: Dalaradia are appealing for anyone who may have some Lego to donate to a local Newtownabbey Special needs school.

LEGO is the most recognizable toy brand in the world. LEGO offers kids limitless possibilities for imaginative play, cooperation, problem-solving, and creativity.

If anyone has any whatsoever, please contact the group.

Many thanks

Aug 16

Thank you

With our upcoming Tanzania Project we have been fortunate to have a number of sponsors and core funding.


However, we are actively fund-raising and seeking sponsorship for operational costs thus releasing more funds for the children.

We want to take this time to thank various people for their kind donations.

  • Dr Ian Adamson –
  • Gary Williamson –
  • Reach UK –
  • Pretani Associates –
  • Stephen Long from The Hubb
  • Pretani Press –
  • North Down Capacity Initiative –
  • Northern-Ireland-1832935186977960/
  • Wm Strain Wm Lightbody Memorial Flute Band –
  • Ballygowan True Blues –
  • Mark Williamson – Rathcoole Peoples Group
  • Steeple Defenders –
  • Wendy Kerr –
  • Disraeli Street Liverpool Supporters Club
  • Martin Snodden – Northern Spring
  • Anonymous Diner, Newtownabbey
  • Shine Window Cleaning, Shankill –
  • Crown Defenders Online Forum
  • Jackie Welsh

Aug 10

Tanzania Project

A group from Loyalist communities (Among them members of Dalaradia) have been selected to participate in a pilot scheme to undertake charitable work with a local orphanage in Tanzania. For more details click the following link –

Jun 23

First Aid Courses

Dalaradia in conjunction with REACH are now providing First Aid Courses to members of the community. The course is provided by SR training,  is over two days and fully accredited. Below is a group who recently completed the course.


First aid and CPR training has practical benefits.

Its saves lives! Although this is the most obvious reason it is also the most important. First Aid training gives you a better understanding and confidence to be able to act in the occurrence of an accident. Time and time again CPR has saved lives due to immediate action being taken. CPR knowledge can be vital in the event of a critical or life threatening incident.

Please contact Dalaradia or REACH for information on future courses.

Jun 22

Dalaradia Foodbank

Dalaradia in conjunction with REACH, Fare Share and Tesco Newtownabbey are now providing a food bank to distribute food to those who have difficulty purchasing enough to avoid hunger.

We will be distributing good food destined for waste which has been transformed into nutritious meals for vulnerable people. The food we redistribute is fresh, quality and in date surplus from Tescos.

The food is open to anyone and can be collected from the HUBB Community Resource Centre, 30 St Aubyn Street, Belfast BT15 3QF (off the Shore Road) every Friday commencing tomorrow 23/6/2017. Please be advised the amount of food available will change from week to week and we cannot guarantee food will be available when you arrive. We would recommend checking before hand if possible on 028 90 777511

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