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.”