“community development is a matter for the devolved administration and not the NIO”

BBC NI’s Vincent Kearney reports that Martin McAleese, husband of Irish President Mary McAleese, “approached the British and Irish Governments and the NI Executive for millions of pounds of funding for UDA controlled areas. It is understood decommissioning stalled because of a perceived failure to deliver the money promised.”

Mr McAleese has a well known relationship with senior UDA figures. He is understood to have held a series of meetings with Jackie McDonald and other UDA leaders to discuss their concerns about working class loyalist communities. As a result, he drew up an action plan and asked the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to contribute £5m to a project aimed at regenerating loyalist areas where the UDA has a strong presence. He said this would be matched by the Irish government. The Irish foreign minister, Micheal Martin, is believed to have attended one of Mr McAleese’s meetings with senior UDA figures.

A very well known relationship, and not just the husband of the Irish President.. Presumably that £5million contribution would be one of Jackie McDonald’s “luxuries that Sinn Féin and the IRA were afforded”. ANYhoo.. Apparently the NIO pointed him towards the NI Assembly, where the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister said “No”. But it doesn’t end there. As the BBC report also notes

Martin McAleese, who travelled to Brussels this week with Jackie McDonald and others, is now believed to be seeking European funding for a modified proposal which includes a total of ten areas – five loyalist and five nationalist. In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin said it would continue to support Mr McAleese’s efforts. “Mr McAleese’s outreach initiatives with the loyalist communities have been very helpful in consolidating peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland,” a spokesperson added.

Will that have been discussed at one of those North-South Ministerial meetings?As the report adds

The Northern Ireland Office confirmed that such community funding would be a matter for OFMDFM.

“The government is aware of Martin McAleese’s interest in community development in loyalist areas,” an NIO spokesperson said.

“The issue of decommissioning is a separate one and we are encouraged by the progress made by the UDA to date. We are confident that decommissioning will be completed by February 9 when the legislation comes to an end.

“Anything to do with community development is a matter for the devolved administration and not the NIO.”

That would be a NI Executive decision then..

Which was also the answer given by NI Secretary of State Shaun Woodward, MP, when asked, in June this year, about reports that “the UDA wanted something in return for its guns and asked for several million pounds for community projects in loyalists areas as well as the early release of UDA prisoners convicted after the loyalist ceasefires”. After he insisted that there had been “no deals and no negotiations”.

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  • Mark McGregor

    A serious question.

    Just who does this ‘Martin McAleese’ think he is?

    Why does he have access to anyone?

    If the President of Ireland wants to pursue this issue – let her. This pathetic acting by proxy through your husband when it comes to dealing with briding loyalists is ridiculous.

    Either this comes from Áras an Uachtaráin or it is long past time people stopped giving credibility to this person.

  • The Raven

    Just an observation, Mark, but does it really matter who is he? If loyalist thugs are willing to talk to him, indeed, anyone, does it matter?

    It’s a question, not a dig, by the way. If he can at all succeed, where others have not, then…does it really matter? (I use the words “at all” and “succeed” in the widest possible way!)

  • mootpoint

    You have to hand it to the UDA. Unbelievable chutzpah. They demand money for guns whilst they still extort businessmen. The “peoples guns” are worth whatever they can manipulate from rather foolish naive people and the political intelligentsia of the NIO.

    MacDonald has rather cleverly tried to get as much money for as many schemes as possible for as many areas as possible. One or two of them would have bound to have been reasonably successful. He then attempts to further demand that the Conflict Transformation Initiative project should continue past it’s three year life span at a further cost of a million or so. Minister Ritchie’s attempt to scupper CTI resulted in three of the leading members to leave that project to go on to another state sponsored so called project. Now he demands upwards of 10 million from North/South and the Assembly. Plus CTI money. Plus whatever else he can dream up.

    All these projects would be staffed by UDA men. All mostly unqualified. Where I work we have witnessed this type of project first hand and I have to tell you that the vast majority of people that we come across and who claim to be community workers is startlingly high. Their lack of formal qualifications, work ethic, skill levels and inability to deliver any sort of verifiable results cause great concern.

    Whatever these people come up with next I would suggest that it should be taken before the Assembly and rejected outright.

  • alan56

    Mark
    Understand your frustration with the shenagins of Martin McAleece but perhaps he serves a good function. He can ‘have a go’ with the understood support of President and indeed republic govt with no real risk to these institutions if he fails. Its a fairly non risky strategy no matter how much it migh turn our stomachs because of the nature of the people he is working with.

  • Pete Baker

    Raven [and alan56]

    You might need to re-assess your parameters of “success”.

    Or perhaps we should just cede policy to the whim of all paramilitary groups?

    Understandably, they would prefer the focus of such policy to be on areas they “control”.

    In the process emphasising the political benefits such “control” brings.

    As for Mr McAleese.

    He’s a proxy for a proxy.

    There is nothing he does that the Irish President does not condone. And there is nothing he does that the Irish Government, in conjunction with the UK Government, do not also condone.

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    Mary McAleese believes that by meeting people like Jackie McDonald she is showing how non-sectarian she is by meeting “authentic” reps of the “Protestant community.” This is utter nonsense. It might make Mary McAleese — a tribalist on record for being so many times over, despite all the blarney — feel good. But she shd ask why the huge majority of working class Prods SHUN these hoods in their own areas. And why ? Because they represent pretty much nobody but themselves. There is only ONE, repeat ONE, Prod paramilitary politico MLA in the NI Assembly. Prods don’t vote for the UDA or UVF with this one exception and may not even vote for that one person next time around. Martin McAleese is acting in a political role for his wife and has no right to do so. Her role is purely ceremonial, like the Queen. Elected politicians in the NI Assembly must decide these matters, not Mary McAleese or her husband, nor the ultra green Dept. of Foreign Affairs, who, despite this anodyne statement from DFA, I hear, are NOT happy with this freelancing with Martin McAleese, and neither are the fudgers of the NIO. Money spent in Prod working class areas shd be carefully monitored and not channeled through the less than good offices of the UDA or UVF or those involved in drugs or extortion. There is too much buying off of these people. They have not decommissioned fully yet and we shd not be paying for it. Martin McAleese is dangerously and foolishly meddling here and being happily used by the paramilitaries and this is now delaying long put off decomissioning. Cease and desist !

  • Alias

    “If the President of Ireland wants to pursue this issue – let her.”

    We’d have to amend the constitution to “let her” interfere in the political affairs of another state – and, indeed, in this state. She is using a proxy because her husband’s actions would be unconstitutional if she involved herself directly. If it can be shown that she is using a proxy and (that it is her proxy and not the government’s proxy) then it would also be shown that she is acting unconstitutionally – and she should then be impeached.

    It’s another example of how moral and legal degeneracy is disguised as political pragmatism (the Irish disease). The lack a value system to inform them that it is wrong to legitimise and to reward murderers and other criminals. Instead, they disguise their degeneracy as expediency – the belief that principles and ethics are an impediment to obtaining a desired result. If the end is deemed good, then the means – no matter how foul – cannot be bad. In doing evil, they think they are doing good – but they are just disguising their own evil and doing bad for its own sake. These are deeply sick people.

    What she is doing is so morally and politically irresponsible as to be trespassing on the criminal. What an utter disgrace this wretched woman is.

    (P.S. AKA Dave)

  • regimental 1912

    Alias,I am deeply sorry to inform you that the politicians legitimised and rewarded murderers and criminals a long time ago,our illustrious deputy dog,need I say any more.I think to coin a well trodden phrase,parity of esteem and equality in our bid to move forward the peace process the need to talk to all concerned is essential.I understand that the ofdfm have put forward MR Fritzell for position of Child Protection Minister

  • Gréagoir O Frainclín

    Ah here folks, the man is only trying to reach out to a group of people who are not only depised by Republicans and Nationalists, but by their very own ‘Unionist’ and more ‘middle class’ people as well. Hey, they are victims of the Troubles as well. Abandoned now that it’s all over, but were once very handy to call on and rile up when elements of the more middle class Unionist mainstream wanted henchmen to lend a bit of muscle to their vitriolic mouthings.

    greagoir o frainclin