When announcing previous funding of UPRG schemes, the Secretary of State for Wales, etc, Peter Hain stated “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.” Well, maybe not £30million. How about £1million? It seems that Mr Hain was listening to Jackie McDonald last week. It’s all part of The Process™, you know..From the BBC report
Secretary of State Peter Hain said: “For some time now, the political leadership of the loyalist community associated with the UDA has wanted to move the whole of the community away from paramilitarism and gangsterism and criminality onto a democratic political path.
“Onto a path where the loyalist cultural and political tradition can be respected in a normal rule of the law and peacefi; fashion.
“But not one involving violence or intimidation or any kind of paramilitary activity.
“We gave them a trial period, over a period of months to see how this work could progress and now we have agreed a long-term support for this objective, which I think is vital.”
The 14th IMC report didn’t focus specifically on paramilitary and criminal activity but it did have this to say
Although loyalist paramilitaries are actively engaged in violence and other forms of serious crime, and in our view have decided against early decommissioning, we do not believe that they pose a present threat to the security forces. There is evidence of senior figures seeking to lead the organisations away from crime although their impact so far has been limited and patchy. Their threat is therefore not at present a problem for security normalisation. [added emphasis]
And from the January this year, the 13th IMC Report
The UPRG continues its initiatives in support of community development. However, the pace of all these various efforts is steady rather than urgent. There are said to be loyalist concerns about the threat from dissident republicans and it has been put to us that until there is more assurance of political stability this pace is not likely to change. However, despite the personal commitment on the part of people directly involved and the progress that has been made, there is still a very long way to go, as paragraphs 2.26 and 2.27 above indicate. If the work on conflict transformation is to remain credible the pace of change needs to quicken or any momentum will be lost.
Also in the BBC report, Frankie Gallagher of the UPRG
Frankie Gallagher of the UPRG said “the community is the paramilitary organisation… they (the UDA) are an integral part of the community”.
“The money is not going to the UDA, it is not going to UDA personnel or into their coffers,” he said.
“It is going to a legitimate organisation which has existed for some 20 years and which has been at the forefront of peace-building in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland.”
But the telling part is the BBC report’s description of what the money will be spent on.. and the circumstances under which it will be withdrawn
The money will be used to open a number of offices in areas where the UDA has a strong presence, and to employ up to a dozen staff.
The funding application was drawn up after widespread consultation with UDA members in a series of meetings throughout Northern Ireland.
The UPRG claimed there was a genuine desire to change and for the UDA to become a community association rather than a terrorist group.
In return for the funding, the government wants to see the end of all UDA violence and criminality, including extortion rackets and drug dealing.
If there is no noticeable reduction in these activities, the UPRG has been told that the funding will be withdrawn.
Full steam ahead then.. and nevermind those foundations..
Adds That’s £1.2million.. apparently. More quotes and political reaction here
And Statement from NIO Minister David Hanson MP – “Government expects end to paramilitarism” [New link]