NI Executive’s £80m Social Investment Fund projected to cost extra £13.1m

Another day, another leaked Northern Ireland Executive memo…  That’s quite a budget over-run, btw.  And the Fund is to run for 4/5 years longer than anticipated.  The leak was to BBC NI Spotlight.  As the BBC report notes The Stormont executive’s controversial Social Investment Fund (SIF) requires an extra £13m of taxpayer money, according to a leaked document. A memo, in the name of the first and deputy first ministers, and sent to government departments last week, was passed to the BBC Spotlight … Read more

“It is not just Stormont that has a Social Investment Fund.”

Newton Emerson in yesterday’s Irish News with some details on the other, less talked about, ‘social investment’ funds out there.  From the Irish News IT is not just Stormont that has a Social Investment Fund. Belfast City Council runs the Belfast Investment Fund and associated Local Investment Fund, with a combined pot of £31 million over three years for ‘community projects’. Alliance has claimed the council funds “aren’t advertised properly in any meaningful way”, leaving “those in the know in prime position to … Read more

“What you should not do is expose Joe Bloggs who might have been buried as a hero but was in fact an informant for the Brits.”

With this attempted distraction in mind, the latest comments by Denis Bradley make even more interesting reading. Bradley also expressed concern about the fate of thousands of one-time informers if there was “full disclosure” of all sensitive Troubles-related security files. “What Robin Eames and I found out in our investigations leading to the Consultative Group on the Past report was that at any given time there were at least 800 informers working within the ranks not only of the loyalist … Read more

Paramilitary violence and intimidation greater than admitted – The Detail. How will the parties deal with it?

The Detail investigative website continues to create impact by laying it out facts you might suspect the main parties have an interest in playing down with an election in prospect. Paradoxically that comparative reticence may be a form of implied cohesion between the DUP and Sinn Fein.  But is it good enough? How should they respond? In their latest report following an inevitably rough audit of the last Assembly mandate the Detail gives a stark account of the level of … Read more

Do we need the “old ” IRA to contain the “new”?

Gang activity labelled “dissident republican” is spreading and is proving very difficult to check.  What is the connection between the killings in Dublin and the fatal shooting taxi driver of  Michael McGibbon? Perhaps the most chilling aspect of McGibbon “ punishment shooting “  was that, rather than go the the police – or even Gerry Kelly –   he went to take his punishment, just as in the worst of the bad old days. The 33-year-old had gone to meet … Read more

When Terror Gets Old: an insight into ex-combatants

One of the legacies of any conflict are men and women who took part and survived. In the case of Northern Ireland, some of those players are now reaching pension age. Many ex-combatants from the Troubles are publicity shy; only a minority speak out publicly about their experiences. Corinne Purtill is senior correspondent in the UK for the US-based GlobalPost news organisation. This week she has published a series of articles to accompany a 15 minute video that explores what … Read more

Is Peter Robinson ready to mete out some tough love to loyalist paramilitaries…

Harsh words today from Tom Kelly in his Irish News column when he accuses the Chief Constable of living in Narnia if he thinks the rest of us believe that loyalist paramilitaries are not behind the orchestration of violence in recent weeks. This morning Newshound links to this feature in the Belfast Telegraph: A mother of four has told how her children watched in horror as a fire engulfed their home. The UDA has been blamed for the malicious fire … Read more

Alex Maskey: “this particular development is a little bit interesting but it’s certainly not one that I would support.”

The short BBC report on the police being attacked with fireworks in the Markets area of Belfast last night, as they investigated the shooting of a 20-year-old man in the legs, has few details to go on.  UTV, on the other hand, have a straight-foward statement, condemning both incidents, from local Alliance Councillor Catherine Curran, and something odd from Sinn Féin MLA, Alex Maskey. Mr Maskey explained the initial incident. “Two people went to a house and asked for an individual by Christian … Read more

Oxford academic decries loss of terrorist murals

There have over the last number of years been serious attempts as part of the Re-Imaging Communities Project to remove the sectarian murals in Belfast and replace them with more positive images highlighting the areas’ cultural and history. The Titanic murals also on the Lower Newtownards Road would be an example: unfortunately since the assembly election two new murals depicting loyalist terrorists have been created. Overall, however, according to the Belfast Telegraph there are fewer sectarian murals now than there … Read more

POTD – A Backward step?

This is the mural that replaced the Glens Mural…hardly a step forward. It is worth noting the language used in this. Who is the message aimed at? Moochin PhotomanPhotographer and visual artist based in Belfast. I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, Young Offenders and many community groups across Belfast. My work has exhibited extensively here in Northern Ireland in group and individual shows and has been … Read more

The defeat of the PUP and Dawn Purvis

Throughout most of the election campaign there was a large billboard on the lower Newtownards Road with a picture of a young woman and the following quote “One year on still no one has delivered for working class unionism; that’s why I’m voting PUP.” As it turned out of course relatively few working class unionists seem to have decided to vote PUP and few unionists of whatever class voted for the PUP’s prodigal former leader Dawn Purvis. The fundamental conceit … Read more

“the reports will be published after the Assembly elections…”

As the BBC reports, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, has announced the dissolution of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) and the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). The IICD archive is to be held at Boston College, as Kevin Cullen reports Thomas E. Hachey, executive director of the Center for Irish Programs at Boston College and a professor of history, said getting the archive was a coup for BC. “This is an incredibly valuable collection for future … Read more

Mount Vernon investigation explains HET bias…

Interesting addendum to Turgon’s post earlier in the day, on the PUP’s call on the HET for it’s bias. Now there is, as Turgon points out (and repeated in the PUP protest banners on this UTV clip), a strange absence of any prosecutions of non dissident Republican paramilitaries. But there’s an explanation as to why the UVF is so well represented in the prosecutions, the investigation of one unit, the one operating in Mount Vernon. And, as pointed out in … Read more

Loyalist terrorist found guilty of sectarian murder

Sectarian murder victim Alfredo Fusco and his bride on their wedding day Another of the bereaved families from here finally got some degree of justice today. Loyalist terrorist Robert James Clarke was found guilty of the sectarian murder of 53-year-old Alfredo Fusco in his York Road café on 3 February 1973. From the BBC report: Mr Justice McLaughlin said there “was no innocent explanation” for the fact that fingerprints belonging to Clarke were found on the door which Alfredo Fusco … Read more

plus c’est la même chose…

Much of the media focus may be on the economic discussions in Dublin, and the former International Representative for west Belfast may be disappearing over the border… but some things don’t change. The 25-year-old man shot in both legs in west Belfast on Thursday was the third instance of a paramilitary “vigilante” shooting in the city this week. The two other shootings took place in north Belfast. A man in his 20s was shot multiple times by three men wearing balaclavas who … Read more

23rd IMC Report: “skills are more significant than mere numbers”

As the BBC reports, the 23rd Independent Monitoring Commission report has been published online [pdf file].  NI Secretary of State Owen Paterson responds here.  Meanwhile RTÉ notes Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd calling for the IMC to be wound up Mr O’Dowd said the Commission was no part of the architecture of the Good Friday Agreement and had been set up as a unionist comfort blanket. He said it had no role to play in the political process. ‘No doubt the … Read more

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

As claim and counterclaim proliferate over collusion between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries, there is a first few tentative calls for something like a truth commission to bring the conflict to some kind of final rest. Whilst Ulster does its usual summer trick of ritually beating itself up, there may be a thread of hope that no conflict can drag on forever. James Murray Brown speculates that: “There is a hope that this summer could see the quietest Drumcree in … Read more