LOYALIST chiefs have put forward a multi-million pound price tag on leaving the stage.
Paramilitry groups aim to mark the 21st anniversary of their ceasefires this week by announcing their intention to disband.
But only if they pocket a mind-boggling severance payment from the taxpayer. Today the Sunday World reveal the terrorists’ cash-dripped demands – jobs for the bhoys, property, immunity from prosecution. In return they must dismantle lucrative drugs and extortion rackets – or the gloves come off. Meanwhile, details have emerged in the wake of a threatening statement from Jackie McDonald’s South Belfast UDA unit which warned it had no intention of leaving the stage while republican dissident groups remain in place.
Loyalist terror chiefs demand mi££ions from Govt to ‘retire’
Loyalist terror chiefs have presented a multi-million pound shopping list to leave the stage.
This week the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) will announce that paramilitary groups will disband – 21 years to the day after loyalist groups announced their ceasefires. The umbrella group representing all shades of loyalist terrorism will make the dramatic announcement on Tuesday two days before an independant panel assessing the status of paramilitary groups publishes its findings. The Sunday World can reveal the leadership of the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando came to the negotiating table with a list of demands, which if granted, will leave the taxpayer footing a bill running to the hundreds of millions.
Today we can reveal the detail of sensitive negotiations involving Tony Blair’s former chief of staff Jonathan Powell, and of the consequences should the CLMC not meet their part of the bargain. Details have emerged in the wake of a threatening statement from Jackie McDonald’s South Belfast UDA unit which warned it had no intention of leaving the stage while republican dissident groups remain in place. Insiders have accused McDonald of ‘brinkmanship’ by threatening to pull out of the process if his wish list of demands are not met. Those demands include taking ownership of the derelict Gilpins furniture factory on Sandy Row.
The three story building has lain derelict since its closure some years ago. Once one of Belfast’s premier stores it sold anything from TVs, to pianos and bespoke furniture. McDonald now wants to convert it into a conflict resolution centre and he wants us to pay for it. The UDA proposal is for the keys to the building to be handed over along with enough cash to convert the building into a ‘loyalist museum’ conference centre and conflict resolution centre. But it is an old idea repackaged. Three years ago McDonald said the rejuvenation of the site would ‘put the heart and soul’ back into the area, at the time Belfast City Council agreed to fund a £20,000 feasibility study but the project ran into sand. McDonald is demanding money from American as well as European funding and cash from the Exchequer as well as Dublin.
On top of that and in partnership with the UVF leadership he is demanding ‘jobs for the Bhoys’ with guaranteed employment for anyone of the rank OC (officer commanding) and up. The multi-million pound shopping list was presented at a recent meeting in Monkstown on the outskirts of North Belfast. Up to 30 senior loyalist paramilitary figures were present including UVF Brigadier in Chief John ‘Bunter’ Graham,
East Belfast crime boss Stephen Matthews, http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/multimedia/archive/00375/120080309_brits_375490c.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/africa/article3662736.ece&h=413&w=620&tbnid=ii_j94i0FBj0dM:&q=stephen+matthews+belfast&docid=8SSY6RegtafKyM&hl=en-GB&ei=HaEaVr6wNYqvsQGwo7vIBw&tbm=isch&client=ms-android-hms-tef-gb&ved=0CCIQMygEMARqFQoTCP6yyKf9usgCFYpXLAodsNEOeQ
UDA Brigadier Jimmy Birch, http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BAkjG2mCAAAcHJV.jpg:large&imgrefurl=http://twicsy.com/i/yWwX9c&h=973&w=620&tbnid=Wuhtn1q-mv32NM:&q=jimmy+birch+uda&docid=rA7tZnuXbFJXrM&hl=en-GB&ei=LKQaVvfbH8yqsgHPoKugCQ&tbm=isch&client=ms-android-hms-tef-gb&ved=0CB8QMygBMAFqFQoTCPeh4ZyAu8gCFUyVLAodT9AKlA&biw=320&bih=401
West Belfast terror boss Matt Kincaid, http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/migration_catalog/article25748551.ece/ALTERNATES/h342/Jackie%252520McDonald&imgrefurl=http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/uda-chiefs-force-mcdonald-to-turn-down-city-hall-invite-to-unveiling-of-republican-icons-portrait-28673763.html&h=342&w=299&tbnid=QJrcQ7W7SyhjSM:&q=matt+kincaid+uda&docid=mY-1IlNkO4hFQM&hl=en-GB&ei=wqQaVuXQHMavswGI4rjABw&tbm=isch&client=ms-android-hms-tef-gb&ved=0CB8QMygBMAFqFQoTCOW5oeSAu8gCFcbXLAodCDEOeA
and rebel faction leader Gary Fisher. The gathering also included community representatives whose identities are known to the Sunday World. We understand the meeting was largely representative of greater Belfast with other areas such as North Antrim and Derry refusing to participate. Central to demands is immunity to prosecution for paramilitary crimes. There has been much controversy in recent weeks over proposed legislation which will allow terrorist killers to confess their crimes in return for anonymity and a clean slate. It has now emerged the proposals as outlined in the Stormont House Agreement (SHA) were drawn up as part of the wider process of getting loyalist paramilitaries to stand down. The UDA and UVF are now demanding the amnesty extend beyond 1998 – the year the Belfast Agreement was signed and the cut off pount for acts carried out during the Troubles. Neither the government or police are likely to concede given the UVF has murdered 32 times since their ‘ceasefire’ and all groups are heavily involved in punishment beatings and wholesale organised crime. It is not clear how far the government is prepared to go towards meeting the loyalist shopping list. They have made it stated that should the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando (RHC) stand down the ‘gloves will be off’ when it comes to dealing with organised crime. Gang leaders have been warned they will be subjected to the full force of the National Crime Agency (NCA). Dubbed ‘Britain’s FBI’, it will be given free reign to target lucrtive criminal rackets in particular the drugs trade and fuel laundering” and has the power to seize assets including property they beleive to be proceeds of crime.
Stephen Matthews in particular was warned his organisation would be ‘taken out by the roots’ if he thinks its business as usual after the announcement is made. Crime boss Matthews is at the head of one of the North of Ireland’s most efficient and ruthless criminal operations. Since the signing of the Belfast Agreement authorities have been so keen to keep paramilitaries on board the ‘peace train’ they were prepared to turn a blind eye to an acceptable level of crime – those boundaries have long been broken. The move has been greeted with scepticism on the ground with well-placed loyalist sources telling us the leadership is ‘playing a game’ keeping the lid on criminal activities in the short term in an attempt to keep the monitoring body ‘off our backs.’ The Sunday World is also aware there is considerable opposition within the Tory ranks to the notion that David Cameron can simply sign a cheque and make paramilitaries disappear. Sources have told us McDonald, Matthews and co have been told they have had their ‘peace bonus’ and it has been spent, so be it, there is no money. The early release of terrorist prisioners as part of the peace process and the injection of an estimated £150-£200 million in grant aid since 1998 for such initiatives as prisoners’ groups, job training and anti-poverty programmes is being seen as the price tag for paramilitary silence. It will be a hard sell to pump ever more millions in taxpayers’ money into ‘helping’ paramilitaries make a transition they should have made 18 years ago, at a time when the Tories are driving an extreme programme of austerity.
With many thanks to: Richard Sullivan (for the origional story) the Sunday World.