“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”.