Annual Memorial Day parade

Saturday 12th May, Dalaradia attended the Red Hand Comrades Association ‘D’ Company Annual Memorial Day parade.

The parade formed up at Drumhirk Drive and proceeded to the remarkable memorial garden at Owenroe Drive for a short service.

Afterwards there was entertainment in the Kilcooley Community Centre.

The patriots blood is the seed of freedoms tree.

Honor, Service, Sacrifice – Lest We Forget

Jim “Jonty” Johnston

Today marks the 15th Anniversary of the cowardly killing of our friend Jim “Jonty” Johnston.





Let’s honor our friends,
The men and women who served,
Whose dedication to our country
Did not falter, halt or swerve.

Honour – Service – Sacrifice

Lamh Derg Abu

Andy Tyrie Interpretive Centre

Yesterday the group visited the Andy Tyrie Interpretive Centre on the Newtownards Road, East Belfast.

The centre has become a great addition to venues displaying aspects of Loyalist culture. Within the centre there are many artifacts and mementos including old Workers Strike passes, minutes from old LPA meetings, jail handicrafts, obsolete weapons and old newspaper clippings among other items.

Among them we found some signed by friends of ours – the late William “plum” Smith and Flint McCullough along with photos relating to our own groups history.





Their aim at the centre is to engage with individuals and groups to help understand the reasons around the need for the formation of various Defence Associations over 40 years ago. They also show the impact the conflict had on loyalist working class communities–in particular East Belfast.

A very enjoyable tour and a big thank you to Billy for hosting us.

Republican and Loyalist Encounters

The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, Queen’s University

Text of presentation by Cllr John Kyle, 14th April 2018, Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, Belfast.


I would like to thank Professor John Brewer and the Senator George Mitchell Institute at Queens for the opportunity to contribute to these exchanges. At a time when the political discourse has become increasingly polarised the need for reflective debate has rarely been greater.

‘Healing our society needs to be placed above the challenges of the political process. A shared future should be about respect and equality for political, cultural and religious difference. We share a common humanity. Authentic reconciliation will depend upon us all embracing new thinking, having conversations to build new relationships between all sides.’

Not my words but Declan Kearney’s.I couldn’t have said it better myself. Healing our society needs to be placed above the challenges of the political process, and yet the political rhetoric,‘break the bastards’, ‘if you feed the crocodiles’,is inflicting more damage, not healing our society

Sinn Fein have made reconciliation one of their buzz words. “Republicans seek authentic reconciliation with Unionism. A new phase of the peace process based on reconciliation and healing must be our future.” Declan again, a couple of weeks ago. I completely agree that reconciliation and healing must be our future. I am old enough to know how bad it was and how far we have come, and I know we are stalled, badly. Frankly reconciliation is receding into the far distance. There are major obstacles in the way, first and foremost sectarianism, deeply entrenched and passed from generation to generation. So how could anti-sectarianism be wrong?

Anti-sectarianism is wrong when it is perceived as hypocrisy. When someone whom you consider to be sectarian accuses you of being sectarian-and this is the experience of Unionists and Loyalists when listening to Sinn Fein.Whether you agree with me or not, this is the perception of many Unionists and Loyalists.

Let me give you some examples:
* Demanding Irish language signs in the university while banning the sale of poppies
*Imposing increasing regulation and restrictions on bonfires while demanding cultural equality and rights
*The refusal by a Councillor to condemn the Enniskillen bombing while proposing a motion in Enniskillen Council condemning sectarianism.
* Calling for victims’ rights while naming a children’s playpark after a convicted terrorist.
* Demanding respect and equality for Irish identity while banning British Armed Forces from school recruitment events and continuing to talk of the ‘British occupation’. I am British and I am certainly not occupying Northern Ireland. My family have lived here for generations and this is home to me, my children and grandchildren.
*Sinn Fein leaders making speeches about ‘Unionist death squads’ while in the same speech eulogising IRA volunteers who bombed and murdered innocent men, women and children.
*Demanding truth and justice for all victims while focusing exclusively on Republican and Nationalist victims and offering nothing to victims of IRA violence. If all victims have a right to truth, Sinn Fein’s silence is deafening regarding La Mon, Claudy, Kingsmill, Enniskillen, Birmingham, Hyde Park and many, many others.

Before you come back at me with counter arguments and justifications, or John Brewer accuses me of a severe case of whataboutery let me say that sectarianism is endemic in the Unionist community as well. I know that I can react in a sectarian way if the right buttons are pushed.

Unionists need to begin the painful task of facing up to our sectarianism, our failings in the past, our need to change, our culpability for thirty years of conflict, our responsibility to create a just and fair society. Too often Unionists have been acquiescent towards sectarianism if not actively complicit. We have failed to recognise its corrosive and egregious effects. Some Unionist politicians have treated Republicans with distain,if not contempt. That is wrong and I for one do not agree with it. However, from our perspective what we experience is Sinn Fein claiming exclusive right to the moral high ground, virtue signalling about how blameless they are in regard to rights, equality, tolerance and respect-if only those Unionist bigots would stop being sectarian reconciliation would be possible.

To stamp out sectarianism it is imperative we begin with our own tribe, or to use the biblical analogy, take the plank out of our own eye before taking the speck out of our neighbour’s. Self-critical evaluation is necessary, shows integrity, gives moral authority, opens significant opportunities for reconciliation, makes people more willing to engage with you and facilitates conflict transformation. Reconciliation offers enormous benefit to us all, but to achieve it we need to come down from the moral high ground. True reconciliation will involve finding level ground on which to interact and be reconciled.

The Unionist community has experienced massive suffering, trauma and injustice at the hands of Republicans who show no perceptible evidence of contrition, repentance or ofasking for forgiveness. Unionists simply do not trust Republicans. Republicans may well say the same-that underlines the magnitude of the task facing us.

To move forward we need to be agreed that we want this place to work. We need to agree that we want our people to live together peacefully;our children to grow up happy, confident and well educated; our economy to be vibrant and successful;our artists, musicians, sportsmen and women enriching our lives with their skills;our elderly, infirm and vulnerable well cared for; a society that is fair and equal,based on mutual respect. This needs to be prioritised above the constitutional question or, in Declan’s words ‘Healing our society needs to be placed above the challenges of the political process.’

The best way to overcome sectarianism is through respectful cooperation, working together to achieve economic and social prosperity. In the past twenty years we have had periods of relative success, glimpses of what might be achieved. But we need to do better. We can do better, but not as ourselves alone. Neither Sinn Fein, successful as you have been, nor the DUP, dominant as they are in Unionism, can do it alone. We can only do better by working together.

As the GFA stated ‘The tragedies of the past have left a deep and profoundly regrettable legacy of suffering. We acknowledge the substantial differences between our continuing and equally legitimate political aspirations. However, we will continue to strive in every practical way towards reconciliation and rapprochement within the framework of democratic and agreed arrangements.’Renewing that commitment would be a start.

Anti-sectarianism is to be welcomed and embraced, but the long road to reconciliation begins with the painful process of self-examination and confronting one’s own sectarian attitudes. The prize, as Senator George Mitchell so eloquently spoke of recently, is peace.

Happy birthday to Queen Elizabeth II

Happy birthday to Queen Elizabeth II who turns 92-years-old today.





Long may she reign over us.

A tribute to young Carter

A tribute to young Carter, a member of the 18th Newtownabbey Youth (08s). A team we sponsor.

God bless.

Loyalists’ rejection of criminality will help ‘uplift’ communities: Hamilton

A clergymen who helped negotiate a loyalist paramilitary pledge to end criminality believes the initiative has widespread public support.

Rev Norman Hamilton said a joint statement from the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando, which was issued last week at a press conference in Belfast, will help “uplift” communities and should not be dismissed lightly.

“I think scepticism is overstated,” he said.

“I think people are cautious. The general reaction has been the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. I have detected caution, and that is absolutely fine and understandable, but there has been very little hostile reaction.”

The former Presbyterian moderator was one of three church leaders – along with Harold Good, a former Methodist president, and former Church of Ireland archbishop Alan Harper – who helped draft the statement that vowed to expel members of the three organisations who engaged in criminal activity.

Loyalists associated with the paramilitary organisations have been involved in drug dealing, extortion and assaults since the 1994 ceasefires.

Rev Hamilton said: “I’ve only had one negative reaction and the vast majority have been very affirming in saying this has to be done. Personally I have had a very good response.”

Rev Hamilton also rejected any suggestion the statement was linked to additional funding being made available for community organisations in loyalist areas.

Referring to his address at Monday’s press conference, he said: “I was very explicit in terms of investment in these communities – this was not about money. This is about uplifting the communities. If you are going to put money into it you have got to put money into it in the right way, so this is absolutely not about money.

“For me, the bottom line is that these communities need uplifting, and wider civic society needs to help that uplift. And I spelt that out in terms of the community partnership boards, the governors of schools, some of the big charities like Barnardos and CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) is where the effort needs to go so that the needs of the community are met by wider civic society, and that these guys play their part in that.”

Asked if he had any concerns at being associated with paramilitary bosses, in light of the fierce criticism of Arlene Foster after she was photographed with alleged UDA commander Dee Stitt, Rev Hamilton said: “Dee Stitt was in the audience [on Monday], but our dealings were with the guys who were at the front table.”




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.