Minister comes under all manner of pressures over UDA funding…

Further to Pete’s post below, we’ve picked up another few snippets pertinent to her pending decision on funding for the UDA. Despite the reported statement from the Secratary of State that “The Commission has confirmed that meaningful engagement and negotiations have started”, her office have heard nothing directly from the General, who is said to have returned home without making any public statement on the matter. It also seems that former Archbishop Robin Eames – whose group has been tasked with finding ways of dealing with the past – has contacted her office in order to speak to her on the matter. And for good measure her office received a death threat aimed at her personally in the run up to the weekend. Hmmm… And as Brian Feeney pointed out last Wednesday, the DUP seems to have completely abandoned its pre St Andrews Agreement position on such matters. Even Sinn Fein’s on the side of the Pursuaders.

  • Turgon

    I would like to think that Eames has contacted Margaret Ritchie and expressed his firm support for her stand.

    I would like to think that he has said that the UDA are a blight on the lives of working class protestants many of whom have at least some connection with the CoI.

    I would like to think that he has reminded her of the number of times that CoI ministers have had to lead funeral services for those murdered by the UDA.

    I would like to think that he reminded her of the sincere condemnation he made so frequently when the UDA murdered Roman Catholics.

    I would like to think he has reminded her of the men, women and children whose lives are blighted by poverty, drug addiction, violence and prostitution by the UDA and who so often get little voice in our society.

    I would like to think that he has told her he agrees that for a normal society one has to stop organised criminality and that we must bite the bullet and stop pandering to these people.

    I would like to think that he told her to stand firm, that the UDA are a criminal conspiracy against the people of Northern Ireland especially the working class protestant community.

    I would like to think he told her that even as a peace loving Christian leader he recognised that at times one had to face down the threat of violence even when it is real. I would like to think he has told her he thanks God for her stand and that he wishes her God’s blessing in standing up to these people.

    I think I may be rather naive.

  • me

    This is a very risky business for Ritchie – no wonder they are leaving her like rats off a drowning ship.

  • Mick Fealty


    Clearly. She would appear to have a very full range of ‘vested interests’ agin her.

    Collusion, how are ya?

    As someone said earlier this evening, it’s a bit like some slightly implausible film script…

  • me

    I still think she is wrong mick, why? Because I don’t think she should try to force the pace of change. I FULLY support her stand – but we are a post conflict society, and if they need the space to change, then like the IRA she should give them some more time. For a minister to make a stand such as this in public, with no wriggle room, it’s win or loose. Thats not a good position for Ritchie, even if people do support her.

    She’s in a position of her own making. Now we need to see what happens on Tuesday.

  • páid

    secretary as in secret methinks

  • Brendan, Belfast

    Me, what ‘space’ do they need? more space in which to shoot cops? more space to keep selling drugs? space to pipe bomb each other?

    What is happening here is a disgrace. Margaret Ritchie has called time on a small amount of money for these thugs and the might of the NIO and the ‘establishment’, including, disgracefully, the Irish Government is out against her. Woodward (who ever thought we could get a distasteful an SOS as Hain so quickly?) is ‘supporting her’ in public then telling anyone who will listen in private that she should ‘back off’.

    She most certainly should not – the Executive don’t support her; the DUP don’t support her; the NIO don’t support her; SF don’t support her. Sounds like she is probably doing something right.

  • McGrath

    Is this a case of Mrs Richie receiving a death threat from persons to whom money is offered to stop issuing death threats?

  • me

    They don’t support her because they know if violence breaks out they’ll have a scapegoat to point the finger at – Ritchie. No one wants violence, give CTI the money, let the UDA stick to its timetable its agreed for decommissioning with De Chastlain. This is a compromising way, but more sure of peace. I prefer Ritchies way, but lets face it, her stand could blow up in her face. Everybody knows it, hence she is on her own.

  • brendan,belfast

    Me – are you content that the UDA’s timetable apparently includes shooting cops and pipe bombing each other? no way. and, for the record, the NIO aren’t paying you enough.

  • me


    Tell me why you think no one supports her. I’ve told you what I think, I’m willing to accept I could be wrong. Give me your reasons.

  • Sir Herbert Mercer

    Poor Margret. I support her stance.

    Anyhow.. is Eddie running again next time, or was that just in case there was a snap election?

  • Turgon

    “This is a compromising way, but more sure of peace.”

    I do not accuse you of this view because I note your other comment “I prefer Ritchies way”.

    The problem is that the view you identified first is the view held by the government and quite possibly others.

    I regard it as an erroneous view and one which is pernicious and destructive to our society. Essentially it is that if we do what the UDA (or other terrorists) want and tell them to be good they will be less bad. Then by degrees they will stop being bad.

    The view is flawed as no real sanctions are ever taken against the UDA as a whole only against some individuals when the are proven guilty. There is no need and indeed it is wrong to apply the standard of beyond reasonable doubt to a terrorist organisation as a whole. If there is a reasonable likehood that the organisation is involved in criminality it is wrong to support, finance or pander to it. The fact that it is beyond reasonable doubt that this organisation is involved in criminality simply makes the issue even more obvious.

    The individuals who run these organisations only derive importance from their criminality, as such they are not going to give up voluntarily the means of their wealth, power and self perceived status.

    Sadly we may have to accept a backlash by the UDA and that may involve violence. Indeed that will almost inevitably involve violence. However, pandering to these people will not make them stop criminality and failing to stand up to them merely condemns another generation of working class Protestants to live under these people malign influence. Sooner or later the UDA must be stood up to. This should have happened some time ago but now is a better time than later with yet another fudge and climb down. That will merely strengthen these individuals and make the final day of reckoning even more difficult.

  • Sean

    the ud has stated they have no schedule for disrmement so how can they stick to it

    time more of the honest people from both sides told the truth

    they wished they had her balls

    I just hope she has them for real

  • me


    We are a post conflict society. What you say is what normal societies do, sadly we are not there yet. We will get there, but we need to get over these obstacles first.

    Lets hope we get over this one peacefully.

  • me

    Below is an excerpt from the newsletter. I also read in another newspaper (not sure which one) that they had agreed a schedule for decommissioning.

    It’s my view a compromise will be struck, to allow both sides to save face, and hopefully get over this obstacle, if not I think Turgon is right, there will almost inevitably be violence, and nobody wants that. However, if presented with a choice I’d back Ritchie. Those who should be backing her tho won’t. They’ll leave her to be the fall guy.

    UDA ‘has begun to disarm’

    Ulsters largest loyalist paramilitary group has begun meaningful efforts to to disarm, it was confirmed today.
    Secretary of State Shaun Woodward said interlocutors have been appointed as the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) takes steps to decommission its weapons.

    The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) informed the Government it had met the UDA to discuss how the terror group could put its weapons beyond use.

    The Secretary of State said he welcomed the move.

    “The IICD has informed the Government that a meeting has taken place between the IICD and the UDA at which decommissioning was discussed,” Mr Woodward said.

    “The Commission has confirmed that meaningful engagement and negotiations have started. Named interlocutors have been appointed and further meetings are planned.”

  • joeCanuck

    ” We will get there, “

    I beg to differ. History shows clearly that the only effect of paying Danegeld is to whet the appetite of the blackmailers for more.
    The only thing that has ever worked is to build up the power of the state to the level that enables the thugs to be beaten and driven from the field.
    Are you suggesting that our state doesn’t have the power to do that right now?
    Of course we do, the only thing that is missing is the political will. Weasels like Woodward will get us nowhere.

  • Bemused

    An utter, utter, utter, utter fucking disgrace. Woodward, Dodds and all of the other terrorist-suckling scum should hang their heads in shame. If ever proof were needed that your average politician in Northern Ireland is a self-serving, spineless wanker then this is it. Anyone who failed to support Ritchie by giving political cover to the recalcitrant scum of the U.D.A. is a cunt with nothing to offer the people of Northern Ireland – pure and simple.

    Let me guess – this post has probably been deleted for being ‘ad hominem’, ‘offensive’ or some other such mealy-mouthed shite.

  • qubol

    me: [The UDA] “agreed a schedule to decommission?”

    is it not that they have just agreed a schedule to meet again? If they have a schedule will they share it with the rest of us?

  • Ian


    “They don’t support her because they know if violence breaks out they’ll have a scapegoat to point the finger at – Ritchie. No one wants violence, give CTI the money, let the UDA stick to its timetable its agreed for decommissioning with De Chastlain. This is a compromising way, but more sure of peace.”

    I’ve not read anything that suggests that the UDA have agreed a timetable for decommissioning with de Chastelain. Yesterday’s UDA statement only said that they’d agreed a timetable amongst themselves.

    Today’s NIO/IICD statement only suggested that the methodology of decommissioning had been agreed. (Didn’t they agree that on at least two previous occasions years ago, when those well-known peaceniks ‘Mad Dog’ Adair, John White, Jim Grey and Andre Shoukri were amongst the motley assortment of UDA representatives? Which just goes to highlight how farcical the whole process is.)

    As for the implication that if the money is stopped then “violence might break out”, well if that were to happen then it would only strengthen Ritchie’s case. Indeed, one could argue that the implied threat from assorted UDA apologists should in itself be a further reason to cease the funding.

  • Rubicon

    Me – much of what you say I can see some sense to since the same thinking brought the IRA to engage with democracy. What I don’t agree with is that the same thinking should apply. The IRA is not the UDA – and that is not an attempt to set a moral hierarchy between the two. The IRA could be negotiated with since it had a command and control structure that delivered. The UDA do not.

    I still struggle with the notion of dealing with the worst sort of psychopaths society can offer. The IRA however had political support and much as I may wonder how these supporters can live with their consciences – the support is real and the command and control structures delivered. I hate the compromise but I have to admit that compromise has delivered a better living environment today. I still retain worries that we’ve compromised too far and may have passed a poison on to the next generation whose interests we justified this compromise on. I hope not.

    I don’t think my views are what Lofty calls “middle class Sluggerites”. His views are a search for justification of murder, rape and pillaging. The victims were Catholics and Protestants – but much more the latter now. This draws a focus on what the UDA are and always were.

    You think giving the UDA a little more time will avoid violence and bring a form of fascism in to the democratic process. I profoundly disagree. I believe the victims of such a strategy are those who (to date) have refused to support it, whose trust in the state has received little backing and will be significantly compromised by state attempts to legitimize the UDA.

    But – you speak of a real-politic. Let me offer my tuppence on the same lines. The UDA are not the IRA. Any engagement with them has identified one thing only – they can’t deliver. Add to that, people like me are mightily pissed off with these compromises and a vehicle to express it is on offer. Disarming the UDA – using your strategy or that of law & order – will result in violence.

    If this peace process can find a shred of legitimacy – it may find it in dealing with this problem. The UDA is a tail-end Charlie. Us “middle class” may just decide to cut their throat – because we can. It’ll release working class Protestants from a viper – but they’ll remain unrepresented.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    me: “UDA ‘has begun to disarm’ ”

    Uh-huh… and just what were they shooting cops in the back with, silly string?

  • David

    Everyone wants to see a positive end to paramilitarism. But lets be honest the SDLP have a completely different approach to Republican terror gangs. Then it is all let’s help them progress and patience (no group has broken the ceasefire like the provos (1994-7) and no gang matched the crime (Northern Bank 26 million)of the same group). Throughout the SDLP called for Unionist patience.
    Now they are total hypocrits. All progress should be done within timetables agreed with unionist leaders and it should be clearly stated that progress was made ‘despite Ritchie’s best efforts’. This is too important to allow a cheap politician to score cheap sectarian points in an effort to win a westminister seat.


    ‘David’ (Rose, of the PUP, for it is he)joins the debate with his usual disinformation. He states “throughout the SDLP called for unionist patience”.

    I challenge him to produce evidence of any statement, ever, from the SDLP in the period post 1994 calling for “patience” in relation to partamilitary disarmament. He won’t be able to do so, because the SDLP would never have made such a statement.

    Why should negotations in relation to UDA commissioning be entered into with “unionist leaders”? The UDA are accountable to nobody-McDonald, Gallagher and the rest of them haven’t got a vote between them.

  • Sean

    The UDA a fews months ago claimed they wouldnt disarm but now because of Ritchie they claim to have a schedule to disarm bollocks to it all

    face em down and be done with it let the showers twist in the wind

    If they want their ransom let them deliver their victim up first

    and if violence comes to the street let them feel the sharp end of the sword that was shown to republicans. Its hardly a secret who needs accomadations in HMG gaols. They are after all still a proscribed organization

  • me


    I agree my view is flawed, badly flawed, but as I said before , we are a flawed society. Not so long ago after the murder in west belfast people were saying there are no control over these young thugs. It’s true, and many privately held the view, sure who cares theres no body to stop them now. No body to curtail them. Many privately felt, that there is abandonment by former para militaries, and communities are now left to the ‘ruc’. What will they do? Not much for us!

    Flawed thinking? Absolutely. I merely point this out because of the flawed thinking – we are still a flawed society -post conflict.

    Many in loyalist areas view it different. They want the UDA monkey off their backs – I support that view. The question is will Ritchie get rid of the monkey by this stance, or will she make the monkey worse.

    It’s a gamble she is taking with loyalist areas, firstly is it her gamble to take, and secondly £1m in todays world is not a lot. Couldn’t she talk, compromise – so that all sides come out satisfied – something that won’t threaten the peace, because make no mistake what we have in Stormont may not survive tribal violence.

    Just my tuppence worth. But if there were a public vote on it – I’d support Ritchie, she deserves support for a moral stand, but practically ?????

  • Sean

    Giving them 1 million wont get them off your back, it will merely legitimize them in their own eyes

    you want them offf your back then offer them up to the PSNI, keeping their secrets doesnt do any of you any good

  • parci

    I disagree sean, I think “me” has the right attitude. Elected officials must try all channels and levels of diplomacy first. The UDA are under huge pressure and scrutiny, and that heat won’t go away.
    We have to say to them ” Look guys we are trying to give you an honorable way out here, to save face, for christ’s sake take it “

  • me


    Thats a tired old argument.Out of date and out of touch. I heard it not so long ago on the radio in relation to Martina Anderson after the attacks in Derry. It happened at the last election when asked by a member of the audience when Gerry McGeough was standing.

  • me

    BTW what happened to Gerry re the court issue….did it go away you know?

  • brendan,belfast

    David, you have already been taken to task on the SDLP not calling for patience issue and you have failed to address it. let me nail your other untruth. Margaret Ritchie is not standing in any westminster election. there is no bloody westminster election. interesting question for you – should the UDA disarm and fold up or not?

  • nineteensixtyseven

    “Everyone wants to see a positive end to paramilitarism. But lets be honest the SDLP have a completely different approach to Republican terror gangs. Then it is all let’s help them progress and patience (no group has broken the ceasefire like the provos (1994-7) and no gang matched the crime (Northern Bank 26 million)of the same group). Throughout the SDLP called for Unionist patience.
    Now they are total hypocrits. All progress should be done within timetables agreed with unionist leaders and it should be clearly stated that progress was made ‘despite Ritchie’s best efforts’. This is too important to allow a cheap politician to score cheap sectarian points in an effort to win a westminister seat.”

    What a bizarre view. The SDLP called for a timetable for IRA decomissioning to be made legally binding in the Good Friday Agreement but it was the Unionist parties who shot it down at the time. It suited the DUP to have the IRA walking the streets with weapons so they could build up the fear or the Unionist community, make the UUP look like failures and take all the votes from them.
    If there was no Unionist patience during those tense times then we probably would not have the devolved government we have now. We now have a settlement and we have the 4 parties in government so why shouldn’t Margaret Ritchie aim to take funding from a group that has sucked all the life out of working class Protestant communities?

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Oh yes, and Dodds is an absolute disgrace. All this rabble-rousing about decommissioning pre-St Andrews and now he is criticising his Executive colleague for making an earnest effort to force the UDA into doing it. It seems like loyalist terrorist killers can have weapons but republican terrorist killers cannot and that the SDLP, the party who always opposed violence unlike the DUP with their red berets and sharing platforms with terrorist leaders, are not allowed to tackle paramilitarism without being ‘hypocrites’. There is only one hypocrite around here and that is Nigel Dodds.

  • Picador

    Mr. Dodds needs the UDA to enforce residential segregation in his consitituency. Without it he would lose his seat.

  • Rapunsel

    Just heard Frankie Gallagher on the Radio and he talked the biggest load of bullshit I have ever heard.

    To paraphrsae he said that if the plug is pulled then the peace process might collapse.

    No better argument yet for her to remove the funding given the attempt by the UDA to blackmail the rest of us.

    Please Margaret just do it, teach these arrogant fuckers a lesson and invest in some gfenuine and inclusive community organisations in loyalist communities