NIO fund UPRG proposal

Secretary of State, Peter Hain, denies that it’s part of a pay-off for the ‘good’ UDA, indeed he claims any such suggestions are “wilfully mischievous”, nevertheless he has announced granting “£135,000 to employ project workers”, for up to 6 months, in a project proposed by the UPRG. The funds are to be be administered by Farset Community Enterprises, “a well established and respected community organisation based in north-west Belfast” – a wider range of results for that search here. The same question crops up as before, is this really the right balance? Updated PA report, more belowFrom the NIO statement

The initial stage of the project will last up to six months and the funds – £135,000 to employ project workers – will be administered by Farset Community Enterprises, a well established and respected community organisation based in north-west Belfast.

The project workers will engage with community representatives and key stakeholders in a number of loyalist areas to identify and develop sustainable mechanisms to help turn those areas away from paramilitarism and criminality.

Mr. Hain continued: “Suggestions that the Government would ‘buy off’ paramilitaries by handing them £70m or £30m are without any foundation whatsoever. Not only are they wrong, they are wilfully mischievous.

“Trying to transform parts of society that have suffered most from the grip of paramilitaries and criminality is not easy and not without risk.

“There will be those who do not want to change and we will do absolutely everything in our power to drive them out of business.

“But I hope that this project will help point the way for those who do want to change and that will be for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland.”

Update The PA report via UTV adds the UPRG statement

The UPRG stressed the amount of money involved was not important.

In a statement it said: “The announcement recognises the need for a process involving loyalism and will assist them in working with other agencies, community groups and public bodies.

“It will help loyalism define the need for all to continue to examine ways of assisting loyalist paramilitaries to move beyond conflict and assist them in their search for an inclusive peace, which is sustainable and enduring and which recognises the history, culture and heritage of Ulster loyalists as a defined people within the Union.”

The initial development stage will allow communities to examine core issues such as creating an environment where paramilitarism is no longer needed; community development, job creation, social inclusion and politics.

The statement added: “We will continue to seize every opportunity presented to us that assists us to move our community out of conflict and from a position of defending to mending and from mending to peace.

“There can be no deadlines on this process; rather we must get it right. Moving too soon creates suspicion and pushes the goal of a lasting peace further away.”

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  • unionist

    Obviously the success or otherwise will depend on the ability of the ‘project workers’. Farset are old hands at development work and will provide the leadership that is required the question will be however what happens at the end of 6 months and will the projects compete on a level playing field with other very worthwhile projects in working class areas.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Oddly enought, this story is “twinned” with another Loyalist related story on the BBC…

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/5355252.stm

  • Donnie

    There’s another £135k for the bookies!

  • Danegeld.

  • lib2016

    Unionist politicans spent years delaying the implementation of an Agreement which had been ratified by the people in a referendum – they can hardly complain at being bypassed now but they will, oh how they will. What goes around…..!

  • Fanny

    “The funds are to be be administered by Farset Community Enterprises…”

    Doesn’t Farcet take a “C,” or is that another Company?

  • Pete Baker

    I can only go by the NIO spelling, Fanny… but a search for Farcet Community Enterprises isn’t any more revealing.

  • loftholdingswood

    Obviously I welcome the announcement from Peter Hain. The funding will be carefully monitored and the appointments will be subject to interview and assessment. I am not sure how many posts there will be (I know we wanted 4-6 covering the province but based in a central Belfast hub) and the initial funding seems rather slight but it is a start.

    Anyone who attended last Friday’s interesting day at the University of Ulster (Jordanstown) listening to the UPRG speak at the conference on ‘Identity in Crisis? Re-examining Unionism, Loyalism and Protestantism in Northern Ireland’ will have been struck by how far we wish to travel and the determination by which we want to put the past firmly behind us.

    And the sandwiches were lovely.

  • memorystick

    Its definitely spelt with an s, because the name comes from the river Farset that runs under Belfast.

  • Yokel

    I assume its Farset near the Orange Hall on the Sprngfield Road/Highfield Estate junction. Been there for donkey’s years.

  • Fanny

    My mother says I’m too subtle for my own good. I’m beginning to think she may have a point.

  • Pete Baker

    Ah.. No, Fanny, just me missing the point.

    D’oh!

  • Yokel

    Wordplay on the word Farce..subtle?

  • Fanny

    Hehe, that’s maybe the least subtle part, Yokel.

  • jay2004

    does peter hain actually believe that money will transform the views and traits of loyalists overnight?!! I think not…it will take alot more than that to change those who are extremely set in their ways

  • Does Farset employ a well known Shankill community worker who has a conviction for fiddling a local group out of state cash? It was either a primary school or youth group if memory serves me right.
    If he is connected to Farset surely he’s the last person the gov should have helping administer public money.

  • rapunsel

    In a competition with other projects for funding — this type of initiative proposed by the UPRG would be and has been unsuccessful, hence the initiative by Peter Hain , in open competition , there’s no way that anyone would take a risk with public funds where the UPRG are concerned. Mr Gallagher is well known as a gad fly with no stickability who walks away from one failure after another. The right words sometimes come tumbling out but that’s as far as it goes. get a few ex UDA priosners into a job for which they have no commitment , skills, experience or willingnes to do anything other than control — there is a history of misuse of the funds, enrichment of the individuals involved, employment of active paramilitaries, failure to kep proper accounts, failure to monitor progress etc. It might be positive that Farset are involved — but they should be extremely wary and ensure that they remain accountable for the funding and the use to which it is put. Those of us with a little bit of knowledge can point to a track record of failure where the UPRG are involved. Consider– Lower Shankill Community Association– 2 staff members in prison and funds allegedly not expended on the community, North Belfast Prisoners Aid – public funds allegedly extorted by the Shoukris for the purchase of cars , an arts network in east belfast, funds allegedly misused by a former UDA prisoner,( I hear that the same spokespeople involved in this initiative had links to some of these other failed initiatives) One difficulty I have with this is that the UPRG is a political party and that dos not bode well for enabling genuine community participation and involvment in the target areas for this initiative. This is an exclusive organisation and will remain so.

    ” The initial development stage will allow communities to examine core issues such as creating an environment where paramilitarism is no longer needed; community development, job creation, social inclusion and politics”

    I had no idea that paramilitarism was still needed. I haven’t been provided with evidence that the UDA is anything other that a parasitic organisation that the loyalist community would need defended from.

    So excuse the cynicism — it’s well founded and regretably I conclude the this will be a wasted £135,000

  • aquifer

    If it moves UFF UDA any way towards dissolution its a bargain. How many millions of investment would their dissappearance unleash?

  • Pete Baker

    It’s not likely to move them anywhere, aquifer.

    It’s embedding them within the structure of those communities through the application of public funds.

  • quis separabit

    The next thing you know they will be giving them money to paint murals.

    oops !!!

  • Chris Donnelly

    Nationalists will be quite sceptical of this development- and I would suspect many unionists as well.

    It is but one more example of the British government skewing money into unionist areas. This one is particularly galling, given that the Brits seem willing to hand the cash over to the UDA directly.

    The UPRG have given little indication that they’re serious about moving away from violence to date, Davy Nicholl’s interesting pronouncements in Dublin aside.

    I would suspect that this money- and the backdoor dialogue continuing between the Brits and the UDA- is more about finding a formula to satisfy both sides: the loyalists get the cash in return for omerta over the scale of loyalist/ British collusion. In this matter, the UPRG would undoubtedly have a strong hand to play.

  • rapunsel

    Pete

    You are spot on on this and where is the public discussion and critique of this sort of action. Let the UPRG compete for votes at election time like anyone else and put public funds into community activity where it can be proven to get meaningful community involvment rather than seek to shore up the position of the UPRG

  • Follow-The-Money

    Jay2004 Writes

    ‘Does peter hain actually believe that money will transform the views and traits of loyalists overnight?!! I think not…it will take alot more than that to change those who are extremely set in their ways.’

    Nor will it stop Unionists parties justifing Loyalist mob action as they did last September for which this is the payout. BTW the feeble propaganda on the unequal funding of Loyalist areas may have worked as the NIO/N010 wanted to use it an oppourity to re-brand loyalism.

    Nevermind the debate on the FARSET’s role – how about the UDA giving some of ITS money back to the poor it seems to care so much about!

  • StarHound

    Is it me but I can’t find the bit that says that the money is connected to or will directly lead to decommissioning of loyalist weapons?

  • Peace

    Sinn Fein and West Belfast were given plenty of allowances to polish up its act, mostly european funds, oh and if you add up all their dole money over the last decade that should add up to about 1000 000 000 000 000 000 000000000000000000000000 pounds…