Ritchie decision on loyalist funding may be imminent…


AS speculation grows that Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie’s announcement on whether funding destined for the UDA’s favoured community scheme will go ahead or not is imminent, I wonder if she’ll get much political cover for her decision. Alliance’s David Ford points out how her Executive colleagues (especially the DUP and Sinn Fein) have already hung her out to dry. The NIO did the same, with Woodward shafting her in an equally sneaky fashion and providing the UDA with cover, despite her threat to withdraw loyalist funding being popular with a public fed up to the back teeth with the government – whether direct rule or devolved – mollycoddling terrorism. Liam Clarke suggests some political interference from Hugh Orde could prove helpful, while a drip feed of funding could be one way of to “exert maximum pressure and maintain the initiative as she pushes the UDA to keep moving”. There is also an opportunity for the Irish Government to intervene, as it has good relations with the SDLP and has been building bridges with loyalism.

  • brendan,belfast

    So it finally looks like a local politican is finally going to stand up for decency and democracy. fair play to Margaret – hope she stands tall.

  • slug

    Well done Margaret. A politician to respect (rare breed).

  • Dawkins

    Hear, hear. Good on you, Margaret.

    Foxy foto too. Sorry, I hereby retract that obviously sexist remark.

  • Nevin

    Brendan, perhaps she’d need to bring more consistency to her departmental sphere of influence:

    Belfast woman convicted of benefit fraud

    DUP councillor convicted of benefit fraud

  • joeCanuck

    I doubt very much that the courts fall under her sphere of influence , Nevin.

  • Nevin

    I was trying to find an appropriate term, Joe. The links are to the DSD news releases.

  • Token Dissent

    It can only be hoped that this puts more pressure on the UDA to go away. But if this reduces funding to deprived areas it will prove to be counter-productive.

    There have been many gross distortions which have suggested that this is a simple government hand-out/bribe to the UDA. Instead as Liam Clarke acknowledges the dosh is handled by a respected association, and is only part of much needed funding for loyalist areas. I understand Richie’s motivation, but she should be concentrating on removing the UDA from positions of influence in the community, not giving them the opportunity to falsely appear as the people’s voice and bank manager.

  • Tkmaxx

    Ritchie did not create this programme or problem. The issue has nothing with Farset either they are mere agents for a government outreach programme. The problem lies in the fact that the programme deliverables depend on the actions of the UDA and not Farset. The Government could not give money directly to an illegal organisation. This was a political outreach programme which expected a political quid pro quo ie decommissioning from the UDA.It has only come home to roost because the UDA dont recognise their day is over and continue to flex their muscle. The funding should be cut because it is not about targeting social need – its completely political. There is no rational for money to be directed via anyone to help the UPRG or UDA.

  • brendan,belfast

    Nevin – what point are you trying (and failing) to make?

  • brendan,belfast

    and i look forward to the apology fro those who said she would ‘spin’ her way out of the issue.

  • URQUHART

    I hope Ritchie does the decent thing and stands firm. I also look forward to the response from the DUP /SF front benches.

  • Margaret is standing firm (right now in the chamber) and seems to be dealing reasonably with the issues Token Dissent and Tkmaxx raised.

    Well done, Margaret.

  • Wille Hay out of order?

  • Scrub that last statement and I unreservedly apologise to Willie Hay, who has done well, putting his office as Speaker above party loyalty.

  • IJP

    Again, very well done Margaret.

    As for the rest of the Executive, which has achieved precisely nothing so far, I’d say the other 13 are the ones out of line with any ‘code’.

  • 0b101010

    There are plenty of ways to fund underprivileged communities without it having to pass through the hands of the UDA. Score one up for local politics.

    It’s ironic that a politician from a socialist party was the lone voice prepared to state the obvious: that 1.2 million is too much public money to earmark for appeasement.

    Now the carrot is gone, when is the stick coming out?