SENIOR loyalists, including a man believed to be a UVF leader, attended a meeting with a DUP councillor that ran until the early hours of the morning in a last-ditch effort to resolve a bonfire dispute in East Belfast.
The Irish News has seen details of meetings that took place in the early hours of Wednesday, just hours before a bonfire at Bloomfield Walk-way was prematurely set on fire. Lee Reynolds, pictured below, the DUP group leader on Belfast City Council, was present at the meeting, as were Jamie Bryson and Stephen Matthews – widely believed to be the leader of the East Belfast UVF.
At 11.45pm on Tuesday Mr Reynolds and mediators met senior loyalists. Police were asked to attend but declined. The meeting took place hours after the High Court ruled that the landowner, the Department for Infrastructure, was responsible for the protection of life and property on its land at the walkway and that the pyre had to be removed or dramatically reduced in size.
The meeting lasted until after 1am with loyalists from the East Belfast Community Initiative, including Bryson and Matthews, going to the walkway to speak with a crowd of around 150 young people who had gathered at the site. This was done after speaking with mediators to calm tensions. There were fears at that time that the large crowd was preparing to engage in civil disorder and a large number of riot police were deployed to the area.
The bonfire builders were given the option to dismantle the bonfire themselves or told the PSNI and contractors – who were former members of the military – would take the material away, by force if necessary.
Bonfire builders refused to dismantle the pyre, which was five times the fire’s devices recommended height for the plot, saying they would sit on the wood to prevent it being moved. At 5am police moved in to start removing the material. At this stage only around 15 young people remained at the site. They set fire to the structure before fleeing, leaving fire crews to keep the blaze under control and hose down nearby properties. Masked contractors moved in and removed the remaining wood under the protection of riot police.
The same contractors, protected by around 200 riot police, later removed a bonfire built in the middle of the road at Cluan Place in East Belfast. When asked about the talks, the East Belfast Community Initiative said the “late-night meetings took place with the view to trying to de-escalate tensions”. Who made up our delegation is a matter for ourselves. However, we can confirm that all attendees were present as representatives of EBCI. No-one in the delegation is a member of any proscribed organisation,” the spokesperson added. Mr Reynolds has been approached for comment.
With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.
McGuinness claim comes as DUP admits briefing flag protester
DUP negotiator Jeffrey Donaldson briefed controversial loyalist Willie Frazer during the Haass talks on flags, parades and the past. The Lagan Valley MP confirmed to The Irish News that he discussed Richard Haass’s draft proposals with the high-profile flag protester as the end-of-year deadline approached.
However, Mr Donaldson said he did not speak to fellow loyalist Jamie Bryson and that nobody from the party had contact with him. Orange Order representative Mervyn Gibson, who was part of the DUP’s negotiating team, also insisted that he spoke to neither Mr Bryson nor Mr Frazer, who faces a series of charges connected to Union flag protests last year. Similar charges against Mr Bryson were dropped in November. The DUP has yet to give its verdict on Dr Haass’s seventh and final draft proposals. Senior party offices are expected to meet within days. Mr Bryson, Mr Frazer and fellow flag protester Jim Dowson were present at the Stormont Hotel talks venue during the days leading up to Dr Haass’s deadline. An outspoken critic of republicanism, Mr Frazer was a founding member of the Protestant Coalition party last year and made headlines in 2012 last year after confusing an Italian flag at a Co Tyrone primary school for an Irish tricolour during an online rant. It was reported on Monday that Mr Bryson also claims to have been shown Haass proposals by unionists as they sought to gauge loyalist opinion. However, the Ulster Unionists have also dismissed suggestions that they had contact with Mr Bryson – or Mr Frazer. “I know absolutely nothing about this claim,” UUP negotiator and former party leader Tom Elliot said. Mr Donaldson said it was a “matter for the parties” to decide who to consult with. He insisted that at no point did he share any draft documents with a third party. “Any discussions we had were of a verbal nature,” he said. “We would have had discussions about the issues contained in this Haass document.” Mr Donaldson said Mr Frazer did not have an effective veto on any of the document’s contents and that made its decision not to sign up to the deal” on the basis of its own assessment”. He said the negotiating team had heard the views of interest groups. On Monday night the UUP said the Haass propasals are “not viable and not acceptable” after a meeting of its executive. Party leader Mike Nesbitt said it was up to the first and deputy first ministers to “clear up the obvious mess that has been created” from the process they had initated. Shame Fein’s Martin McGuiness on Monday claimed that elements of the Orange Order and extreme loyalism were setting the parties agenda.
‘Adopting negotiating strategy which is driven by these negative elements is a huge mistake – Martin McGuinness.
The final Haass proposals were published on Monday in an abridged format on the Panel of Parties website. The full 40-page document has been available on the NI Executive website for the past week. “As political leaders we have a responsibility to all citizans to deliver,” Mr McGuinness said. “I have concern that the agenda for both unionist parties is being set not by this requirement but by the needs and demands of the Orange Order.” The Mid Ulster MLA said “elements of the Orange Order and extreme loyalism” did not wish to see agreement and that they were hostile to the idea of a shared future. “Adopting a negotiating strategy which is driven by these negative elements is a huge mistake,” he said. Mr McGuinness called for “political leadership” and said the vast majority of people in the north wanted to see progress. He said negotiations had concluded and that the only purpose in establishing an all-party working group wa to “ensure the implementation of the document as it stands”. An Orange Order spokesman said it had engaged positively with the Haass process and outlined its position through face-to-face meetings and separate submissions on parading, flags and emblems and the past. He said the issues discussed in the document were difficult to resolve and the order hoped a “fair and balanced resolution” could be found. “Despite losing 337 of our members as a result of terrorism, predominantly through violence orchestrated by the PIRA, we remain committed to playing our part in making the North of Ireland a better place for everyone,” the spokesman said. “In return, all we ask for is respect and tolerance for our culture and traditions.” The order spokesman said the deputy first ministers remarks were a “shabby attempt to deflect attention away from his own murky past”. “Mr McGuinness would be better served to come forward and tell the truth, for the sake of all innocent victims and the justice they deserve, regarding the heinous crimes inflicted by republicans,” he said. On Monday Dr Haass published the ‘fact sheet’ on his proposals. “The draft agreement would leave the people of the North of Ireland considerably better off than they are today by tackling the difficult issues that continue to divide society,” he said.
(Very rare footage of Gerry Adams in 1969-1970 who claims he was never a member of the PIRA)
ARGUABLY the most complex issue facing the North of Ireland has been how it deals with the legacy of a 30-year-conflict, with competing narratives of what happened and victims demanding truth and justice after more than 3,000 unsolved murders.
‘I will take myself to Stormont at the earliest possible opportunity and make a citizens arrest of Mr Kelly – Jamie Bryson
FLAG protester Jamie Bryson plans to “make a citizen’s arrest” of Shame Fein MLA Gerry Kelly. Mr Bryson claimed he will arrest the North Belfast assembly member at Storming for clinging to the front of a moving police Land Rover in North Belfast.
He criticised the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for not making a decision on whether to charge Mr Kelly over the incident in June. The MLA was filmed holding onto the armoured PSNI/RUC vehicle in the Peter’s Hill area of the city following the Tour of the North parade. Mr Kelly had said he was forced to cling to the Land Rover after failing to stop the vehicle. Mr Bryson yesterday said he had sent a “stongly worded email” to the PPS asking why no decision had been made on whether to charge Mr Kelly with any offence. “I beleive a citizans arrest should be made,” the 23-year-old from Donaghadee in Co Down said. “I will take myself to Stormont at the earliest possible opportunity and make a citizens arrest of Mr Kelly. “Perhaps then the PSNI and PPS will be oblieged to treat him in the same manner as they treat Union Flag protesters.”
With many thanks to: Brendan Hughes, The Irish News.
‘My problem was never with the traders. We never set out to target trade – Jamie Bryson.
TWO controversial loyalist parade planned to take place in Belfast and Bangor in the run-up to Christmas have been postponed until the New Year.
Sandy RowOrange Lodge announced last night that it had taken a decision to postpone a parade through Belfast city centre this Saturday. In a statement, it said the decision was taken “after listening to city centre traders and the local community; and in light of the heightened level of security due to Republican terrorism”. It said it beleived a further parade “at this time through the city centre would not be in the interests of our fellow citizens and therefore as an act of goodwill in this Christmas season we have decided to postpone the parade until early in the New Year”. “The Parades Commission again sought to criminalise Unionists by their determinaton; however, we will not fall into their trap. When we next notify to parade the current Commission will thankfully be gone,” it said. “The support for our Ligoniel brethren remains resolute and indeed we would continue to encourage our members and friends to support the ongoing protest and parades at Camp Twaddell and the Woodvale Road.”
Meanwhile, a loyalist parade planned for Bangor on December 21 has also been postponed until the new year after traders met with organisers. Last month prominent flag prostester Jamie Bryson, revealed plans to bring 2,500 people and 14 bands through the seaside town on the last Saturday before Christmas and one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Oganised by the North Down Ards branch of the Ulster People’s Forum (UPF), the parade was intended to highlight complaints against the PSNI by loyalists and protest at the decision by Belfast City Council to restrict the flying of the Union Flag at City Hall a year ago. The Bangor parade was called off after talks beween local traders and organisers last week during which local business people voiced their fears that trade would be hit “during such a sensitive and fragile trading period”. President of Bangor Chamber of Commerce, Ken Sharp, said had the parade gone ahead the impact would have been “immeasurable”. “The chamber beleives in engaging with as many parts of the wider Bangor community as possible to work togeather for the improvement of Bangor through investment, trade and jobs.” Flag protester Jamie Bryson said the disputed parade will take place early in the new year. “My problem was never with the traders. We never set out to target trade,” he said.
With many thanks to: Connla Young and Marie Louise McCrory, The Irish News.
LEADING loyalist flag protester (and poster boy) Jamie Bryson is to aa play to have his bail conditions relaxed so he can attend further protests and speak at demonstrations.
Mr Bryson (23), will a play to BelfastMagistrates Court today in a bid to be aallowed to attend a protest against a contentious republican march through Castlederg in Co Tyrone later this month. His friend pastor Mark Gordon said Mr Bryson expects his application will be refused and if so he will a play to the High Court. “Police seem to want to drag this out as long as they possibly can. In the meantime they expect Jamie to sit on his hands and remain silent,” he said. “I think the time has come when he cannot reasonably be expected to do it any longer, especially given the current circumstances within the pProvence.”
LOYALIST FLAG PROTESTER RELATIVE IS IRA‘S FEARED GUNMAN AND SNIPER WHO ESCAPED THREE TIMES.
”Hero Jim Bryson would turn in his grave if he knew he was linked to that loyalist‘
Baby faced Super Prod Jamie Bryson is a direct relative of the IRA’s most fearsome killers, we can reveal. The Bangor loyalist is related to Provo martyr and his namesake James Emerson Bryson.
This is the dark family secret Bryson has been keeping tight lipped about throughout his recent Union flag campaign. In August 1973, Jim Bryson, who was regarded as one of the IRA’s top gunmen, was shot and fatally injured by British soldiers in his native Ballymurphy. The Sunday World investigation has discovered the IRA hero was the first cousin of Jamie Bryson’s grandfather Walter Bryson. Described by Gerry Adams “as a dear friend”, Jim Bryson was regarded as a ruthless operator. His formidable reputation was well earned – he is known to have escaped from custody three times. On one occasion he jumped from the back of a Saracen armoured car where he fought soldiers with his fists to break free. The second time was when he and six other IRA internees swam to freedom through the frozen waters of Belfast Lough from the prison ship Maidstone. The third time was from the underground passage that linked Crumlin Road jail to the courthouse.
Using a smuggled pistol Bryson and another prisoner, who were both facing arms charges, overpowered warders, stole their uniforms and escaped outside. Bryson was the only one who evaded capture and manged to make it to the Shankill Road where he stopped a car and asked for a lift to the Falls Road. Jim Bryson’s now legendary actions are at odds with wee Jamie’s recent form.
He was arrested by cops eaearlier this year cowering in the corner of a loft at his pastor’s Bangor home. The baby-faced loyalist, who is currently facing charges relating to the flag protests, subsequently went on hunger-strike which lasted less than half a day. During an online Twitter spat earlier this year Jamie Bryson Jr made his dwellings clear on the IRA and loyalists paramilitaries. “Loyalists were not terrorists. The IRA were the terrorists,” he posted. “I would not view the UVF as terrorists.” After Jim Bryson Snr’s death Gerry Adams in his book described how he advised his chief lieutenant to keep a low profile. “I had argured with Jim very earnestly…. that he needed to keep his head down; things had changed from the time he could wander around the Murphy at will,”. But the late Brendan Hughes, quoted in journalist Ed Maloney’s book ‘A Secret History of the IRA, had a different view. “Byrson didn’t trust Adams, because he had never fired a shot,” “He was such a hard bastard, and I think Adams was basically frightened of him.” According to Maloney in the early years of the troubles, Bryson’s weapon of choice was a vintage Lewis Machinegun.
He used the weapon to break the IRA’s 1972 ceasefire when he, along with Brendan Hughes and Tommy Tolan, opened fire on British troops in Lenadoon, in West Belfast. Bryson was also a feared sniper who used an Armalite rifle fitted with a telescopic sight.It was this gun that British intintelligence believe he killed a number of soldiers and policemen. His death created a huge outpouring of grief from his fellow Ballymurphy republicans who later created a mural in his honour. So powerful is the IRA legend’s legacy that republican leaders still refereference his importance to the struggle. At the 2001u unveiling, three years after the Good Friday Agreement, Gerry Kelly told the gathered crowd to remember Bryson and his fellow IRA man Patrick Mulvenna, who was killed alongside him. “None of us can speak for Jim or Paddy and say what they would think of the situation today. “But at the time they were leaders of the struggle and they led with courage and imagination.”
Described as the by the battalion officer of the British Army unit that killed him as “a cunning ruthless killer”, Bryson was much loved by his family and the wider community in Ballymurphy. To this day an annual commemoration is held for him and Mulvenna. The British Army’s own account of the armambush said it “destroyed arguably the best Provisional ASU in Belfast and disposed of two dangerous men in the North of Ireland.” A source close to James Emerson Bryson told the Sunday World the IRA man would be aghast to discover any relative of his was a loyalist. “If you had told him that a direct descendant of his and his namesake would turn out to be a wee loyalist scrote like that he would drop down dead.” “He must be turning in his grave.” Fellow flag protester Willie Frazer described the news of Bryson’s lineage as “a turn up for the books.” When contacted by the Sunday World a horrified Bryson denied any connection to the IRA man, whose father Albert was a brother of James Bryson the father of Walter Bryson…. Jamie’s grandad.