DUP Speaker Robin Newton has rejected allegations that he misled the Assembly over his links to a UDA-linked community organisation but said he will now not seek re-election to the position.
The East Belfast MLA is under increasing pressure after a BBC Spotlight programme claimed he misled the assembly about the extent of his association with Charter NI.
The community group, which was awarded management of £1.7m of public money for an employability project, is headed up by alleged UDA ‘commander’ Dee Stitt.
Mr Newton, who is still being paid £87,000-a-year as speaker and MLA despite the assembly not sitting, previously told MLAs that while he offered advice to Charter NI as part of his role as an elected representative he was not an “advisor” to the east Belfast group.
However, a BBC Spotlight investigation into the controversial Social Investment Fund (SIF) has claimed documents dating back several years show he attended board meetings, helped head-hunt board members and lobbied funders on behalf of the organisation, which repeatedly refers to him in minutes as an advisor.
Mr Newton said: “I reject the allegations in the Spotlight programme. I did not mislead the NI Assembly. I have never been appointed to any position with Charter NI. I am not responsible for how others refer to me in their correspondence.
“I will not be a candidate for Speaker in any new Assembly. At the next NI Assembly sitting, I will chair the election of a new Speaker as the first matter of business.”
One set of minutes featured in the Spotight programme says that he helped to “steer” the board and did “more than just go to the board meetings”.
The Irish News previously reported how Mr Newton lobbied for money for Charter NI just weeks before refusing an urgent assembly question by the SDLPs Nichola Mallon about its funding.
He apologised to assembly members for not delegating the decision given his links to the group.
David Ford, Alliance Deputy Leader, called for Mr Newton’s immediate resignation.
“If these allegations are true, and judging by the documents unveiled on tonight’s programme, they are, then the Speaker has no option but to resign his role with immediate effect…”
“Alliance recognises people with a paramilitary past can play a positive and constructive role in society. But when people with a paramilitary present are doing so, there is a problem. That is the situation with some individuals in Charter NI.
“We have serious concerns about the lack of fairness and effective use of resources being directed towards certain groups, which is why we wrote in the summer to ask for an Audit Office investigation into SIF.
“There also needs to be a revised paramilitary strategy which is backed by all parties and which has clearly defined goals and targets. Only by doing so can we finally remove the poison of paramilitarism from society.”
Speaking last night, the SDLP deputy leader said; “It is clear from the documentation unearthed by Spotlight that Mr Newton failed to declare to the assembly and public the full extent of his role with Charter NI when he ruled against my urgent oral question on the funding of public money to this organisation from being heard and answered.”
The DUP did not respond to request for a comment last night, but Mr Newton told Spotlight in a statement that he has worked with and offered advice to all sections of the east Belfast community, including community organisations, and some of his contacts have been formal, stronger or longer than others.
It has been claimed that the DUP used the Social Investment Fund, administered by the Executive Office, to help attract votes from hardline loyalist communities.
The BBC put this question to former leader Peter Robinson, said to be the architect of the fund, who responding by saying “Catch yourself on”, adding that most political parties had held meetings with former paramilitary leaders at some stage.
In a statement to Spotlight, the Executive Office said: “Appropriate governance procedures are in place to ensure the programme is delivered and managed effectively.”
With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.
THE Policing Board has admitted that it can no longer carry out its statutory obligations after a key adviser’s contract was not renewed.
It is understood the former human rights adviser Alyson Kilpatrick (pictured above) left her post last month. The Policing Board has a responsibility to monitor the performance of the RUC/PSNI in complying with the Human Rights Act. Human rights oversight is regarded as one of the most important functions of the board. Appointed in 2012, Ms Kilpatrick regularly provided expert legal opinion to the board and helped produce an annual human rights report. Regarded as an expert in her feild, she was appointed as a part-time special adviser to the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation last year.
RUC/PSNI, UVF, UDR, UFF, UDA, British Army, MI5, MI6, NCA and the Special Task Force.
In February this year senior board figures, including chair Anne Connolly, were delegated authority to take decisions across a range of areas. These include ensuring the RUC/PSNI can continue to draw down funding, to approve high value compensation requests and approve RUC/PSNI secondments. However, the adviser’s contract has been allowed to lapse. While independent members continue to meet in privite, a spokeswoman for the board last night said it has no authority to appointment a new adviser. “In the absence of a fully constituted Policing Board, it was not possible to extend the appointment period of the Human Rights Advisor as there was no authority to do so,” she said.
“A new appointment process to fill this role will be initiated when the Board is fully constituted.” Political representatives were not appointed to take their places on the board after the March assembly elections due to the ongoing political crisis. Former board member and SDLP representive Dolores Kelly voice anger at the development last night. “It’s a complete lack of understanding of their role at best,” she said. “At the end of the day these people are still getting paid.” Ms Kelly also voiced concern with regards to oversight of the National Crime Agency and a special task force involving that group, the police and customs officers recently set up to tackle paramilitary activity. The SDLP MLA said the matter needs to resolved quickly. “I call on the board and other independent members to immediately address this serious situation.” “Who made this decision? They need to come clean.” A spokesman for the RUC/PSNI said: “This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Policing Board.”
Irish News Editorial: Another casualty of Stormont impasse IN today’s edition we report that the Policing Board has become nothing more than a ‘talking shop’ because of the inability to appoint a human rights advisor due to the absence of a functioning assembly. Other side-effects of the failure to reestablish a government at Stormont have been the lack of ministers to oversee financial arrangements at the various departments, with under pressure health and education often quoted. Yesterday Secretary of State James Brokenshire again stated that he would have to put a budget to finance North of Ireland departments before Westminster. As he pointed out himself, this is not what the electorate voted for. It is critical that locally elected representatives do all they can to bring about a resolution to the problems which are holding back the reestablishment of an executive. The sooner the better.
With many thanks to: Connla Young The Irish News for the original story.
THERE have been calls for the venue of a potential match between Celtic and Linfield to be switched due to concerns about security.
The two clubs could face each other in a Champions League qualifier at Windsor Park next month – to be played on 11th night.
The Scottish giants enjoy a huge following in Ireland and all over the world. And are supported mainly by Catholics while Linfield has mainly unionist and Protestant support base. It would be the first ever meeting between the sides. Both July 11th & 12th are significant dates in the Loyalist calendar and an influx of nationalist/Republicans into the mainly loyalist Windsor Park area could prove a security nightmare for the RUC/PSNI.
Each year thousands of Orange Order supporters gather to watch the annual Twelfth parade through Belfast, and the unionists/Loyalists on Saint Patrick’s Day object and sometimes become violent at anyone wearing Green on St Paddy’s day. So with the Celtic supporters wearing Green & White and Green, White and Orange, theres potential for trouble. Which passes close to the stadium along the Lisburn Road.
And Loyalist paramilitaries including the UDA and UVF and also SEA-UDA also it could end up in a bloodbath. As they would be urging there supporters to attend to show support & start potential trouble. An Eleventh Night fixture could prove equally volatile as loyalist attend bonfires accorss the city.
Critic’s manger is Brendan Rodger, (pictured above), who comes from Carnlough, Co Antrim. While Linfield’s boss is former Rangers player David Healy.
There was controversy in 2008 when Healy mined playing a flute (pictured above), in front of Celtic supporters during a friendly game with Fulham, his club at the time. He later apologised. With the majority of Celtic supporters expected to make the journey by boat, there is also a potential for a clash with Scottish loyalists making their way to the North to take part in the Twelfth demonstrations.
Linfield has provisionally suggested a 5pm or 5.30pm kick-off on Tuesday July 11th, subject to consultation with the RUC/PSNI.
But Seamus Darragh from the Dicey Reilly’s Celtic Supporters Club in Belfast last night said the venue for the first match between the clubs should be switched, meaning it would take place in Glasgow. “My point of view is the best situation is to reverse the fixture.”
He said to hold the first leg in Belfast at the biggest time of the year for loyalists would be insane”. “I think the police will intervene. Already they are going to be stretched,” he said. “Even when it’s normal police are under stress.”
Mr Darragh, a former Linfield youth player, added that some Celtic Supporters will be rooting for Linfield when they face SP La Fiorita. “We want Linfield, it’s a beauty of a tie,” he said.
Trouble has flared in the past when teams supported by nationalist/Republican have played at Windsor Park. There were violent scenes in 1990 when Donegal Celtic played Linfield.
A year later loyalists threw a hand-granade at visiting Cliftonville supporters. In 1948 Belfast Celtic’s Jimmy Jones suffered a broken leg when he was attacked by Linfield supporters during a Boxing Day game at Windsor Park, precipiting the departure of the club from Irish League Football.
Operations Superintendent for Belfast Norman Haslett said on Monday night: “We are aware of the possibility of a Belfast fixture next month between Linfield and Celtic. “We are currently in discussions with UEFA and Linfield FC about the details of the event.
Our returning proconsul is a Theresa May clone from the same robot factory as her, programmed to mouth meaningless mantra.
Everything changed – except the players.
THE Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) has commented for the first time on its controversial election endorsement of DUP candidates.
The political wing of the UDA urged loyalists to vote for Emma ‘Little’ Pengelly and Nigel Dodds in South and North Belfast, both marginal constituencies with large working-class loyalist areas.
Mr Dodds went on to hold off the challenge of Sinn Féin to retain his seat, while Mrs ‘Little’ Pengelly ousted the SDLP’s Alasdair McDonnell – both on increased turnouts.
The DUP was challenged in the days before the election to state whether it accepted the endorsements, which came in the same week that a breakaway faction of the UDA was linked to the murder of Colin Horner (35) in a supermarket car park in Bangor. The party saw its vote rise in traditionally loyalist areas across the the North of Ireland, including in Lagan Valley where Jeffrey Donaldson increased his share accorss the constituency by almost 12 per cent.
A spokesman for the South Belfast UPRG said the high turnout was in part because of “anger at Sinn Féin’s actions”, with the party’s respect agenda not perceived as genuine.
“Unionism was angry and that was the main motivation to vote, especially when it came to the DUP – I know of many UUP voters who instead voted for Jeffrefy Donaldson,” he said.
“We have seen improvement in voting turnout for the last three years but it’s slow and could be a lot better “UPRG has been pushing many locals to register and get out to vote and this has worked to an extent. “South Belfast was different, as there was such a rise in the turnout that it helped deliver a unionist MP which was the main reason for such a sea change.”
In Loyalist Sandy Row in South Belfast, turnout was an unprecedented 70 per cent. The UPRG said the area’s two main DUP representatives, Ms ‘Little’ Pengelly and Christopher Stamford, had built relationships in a community that previously viewed politations out of touch.
The spokesman denied that Social Investment Fund money to loyalist areas had ‘bought’ votes, claiming the endosment of Ms Pengelly “was done so out the urgency for the unionist community to have someone sit on the benches at Westminister and work for them, help deliver investment and improve their day to day quality of life”.
“The media furore over the UPRG endosment of Emma and the subsequent LCD [Loyalist Communities Council] statement which endorsed Tom Elliott, Gavin Robinson and Nigel Dodds was uncalled for and perhaps the community saw this as yet another proverbial kick in the teeth so it motivated them further,” he said. With many thanks to: Allison Morris, Security Correspondent, The Irish News for the original story.
Two Terrorist Supporters elected as MPs Emma ‘Little’ Pengelly (MP) and Gavin Robinson (MP).
And now talk of Sinn Féin talking of taking their seats in Westminster to defeat the Tory party and try and stop Brexit.
Arlene Foster now holds the playing cards but there is still two very difficult questions for her answer. “How can she work both deals”
(1) In the negotiations Here in the North of Ireland. Where there is no government?
(2) In the negotiations in England where the Tories are “up shit creak without a paddle.”?
She even went on to speak in Irish using the words “Sin É” pronounced in English as (Shin A) meaning “That’s it”.
This could not only force another re-election in the North of Ireland, but also another re-election in England, Scoland & Wales.
It would be a complete disaster for the Conservite’s and the DUP, here in the North of Ireland (Northern Ireland). The English people as a nation need to watch their backs. Don’t trust a Tory and don’t trust ‘The DUP’!
In 2015, The DUP built it’s election campaign around the idea that that it’s MPs might be Kingmakers at Westminster. Their posters bore the a the slogan “More Votes. More Seats. More Influence. More for Northern Ireland”. When David Cameron won his majority, that strategy was quietly forgotten.
“While I was writing this it was confirmed that the DUP has reached a deal with the Tory party. A DUP Sourcesaid:“We want there to be a government. We have worked well with May. The Alternative is intolerable. For as long as Corbyn leads Labour, We will ensure there’s a ToryP.M.”was written in the: The guardian, Newspaper.
The Tories are now in very serious trouble the backbenchers are unhappy WIth the ‘New collation between the tory’s and the DUP.
But come on be honest, by you looking at a picture like that (picture below). Would you trust Boris Johnson? Honestly? because I wouldn’t.
All 18 of the North of Ireland’s MPs have been confirmed with the SDLP and UUP losing their seats at Westminster.
The final result came in Fermanagh and South Tyrone where the UUP’s Tom Elliottlost to Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew M.P.
Former SDLP Party Leaders Mark Durkan, Margaret Richie and Alasdair McDonnell were toppled in Foyle, South Down and Belfast South.
In Foyle, Sinn Féin’s Elisha Mc Callion won by 169 votes after a recount.
But that’s the position the 10 newly returned MPs are in, despite Arlene Foster predicting it did “not look likely” at the campaign outset. And latter saying “It would be difficult to do a deal”.
The DUP party has been criticised in the past for sharing platforms with representatives of loyalist paramilitaries.
In 1996, former MP Rev William McCrea stood ata Portadown rally alongside LVF leader Billy Wright (pictured below).
The ruthless paramilitary group, which split from the UVF in 1996, was responsible for high-profile murders including the killing of Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick.
In the mid-1980s the DUP also had close links with Ulster Resistance, set up in response to the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
The group was launched in 1986 at a rally in the Ulster Hall in Belfast addressed by then DUP leader Ian Paisley.
Peter Robinson, who at the time was his party’s deputy leader, was later photographed at another Ulster Resistance rally wearing a beret.
The party cut ties with the group in 1987 when members were linked to arms finds.
The father of the DUP’s Emma Little Pengelly, who has just won the South Belfast seat, is Noel Little, a Co Armagh loyalist and founder of Ulster Resistance.
Little was one of three men arrested in Paris in 1989 in connection with a plot to exchange a missile stolen from Shorts for South African guns.
After spending two years on remand the trio received suspended sentences and fines.
The weapons they sought to procure were destined for the UVF, UDA and Ulster Resistance.
In 2014 the DUP and other unionist parties were also criticised for joining the UVF-linked PUP in signing up to a ‘graduated response’ following the banning of an Orange Order parade in Ardoyne, north Belfast.
The ‘graduated response’ later failed to materialise after the PUP, TUV and Ukip withdrew their support for the pan-unionist group amid allegations of “betrayal” over parading.
In June 2017 Arlene Foster was criticised over meeting a UDA leader just days after a breakaway faction of the paramilitary organisation was linked to a brutal murder.
The DUP leader spoke with Jackie McDonald at a community office in the Taughmonagh area of south Belfast on Tuesday during canvassing ahead of next week’s general election.
In February, before Assembly election, he urged voters to get behind Mrs Foster saying her “experience and dedication has helped bring about stability and prosperity.
What voters in Britain make of Tory ‘kingmakers’
GIVEN how dear the DUP holds the union with Britain, relatively few people in the rest of the UK are familiar with the party and its policies.
As it became apparent on Friday that Theresa May planned to form a government with Arlene Foster’s party, social media was filled with contributors offering insights into Westminister’s ‘Kingmakers’.
Notably, in the relatively liberal social climate of England, Scotland and Wales, the DUP’s conservative world view was highlighted in mostly pejorative terms.
Here’s a sample: Singer Paloma Faith tweeted: “DUP = awful: anti abortion anti LGBT rights anti woman’s rights and don’t believe in climate change. Very modern (sniff)”.
Left-leaning economist Richard Murphy, who has previously been vocal in his opposition to devolving corporation tax power’s to Stormont, said on Twitter: “If I had to choose a party to have undue influence over government the DUP would be the last barring UKIP. They’re a nightmare of prejudice.”
Environmentalist and Guardian columnist George Monbiot highlighted the links between the DUP and UDA, which just days ago added its voice to the Loyalist Communities Council statement urging voters to back Mrs Foster’s party at the polls. “I trust that The Daily Mail will now devote it’s first 13 pages to the #DUP’s associations with terrorism,” he tweeted.
Veteran Journalists and Channel 4 News anchorman Jon Snow tweeted: “One of the most extreme politicial entities in the British Isles, the 10 MPs of the DUP, is to wag the tail of Mrs May’s minority government.”
Former Liverpool footballer Stan Collymore posted an article from The Irish News which bore the headline ‘Arlene Foster has no regrets after being pictured with UDA Commander [Dee Stitt].
Under it the Talksport contributor wrote: “Come on Dacre and Murdoch and Hopkins and Robinson and Tories. Where’s your outrage now?”
Belfast-born former ITN foreign correspondent Andrea Catherwood tweeted: “Wait until you hear DUP’s views on homosexuality. They make Tim Farrin look like Peter Thatchell.”
Some, however, such as columnist Polly Toynbee misinterpreted the DUP’s priorities. “DUP top priority will be soft border, saving Good Friday agreement and free movement across boundary. That absolutely rules out hard Brexit,” she tweeted.
UDA-Linked Ulster magazine urges support for four DUP candidates and urges its members not to support Ulster’ s Alliance Party &
AND THREATENS ANYONE VOTING FOR THE ALLIANCE PARTY THAT THEY “WILL BE SHOOT” ULSTER DEMOCRACY!
AleAne FOSTER HAS BEEN CRITICISED FOR MEETING THE UDA BOSS (pictured above), only DAYS AFTER IT MUDERED ONE OF THEIR OWN IN BANGOR. IN THE NORTH OF IRELAND.
The Loyalist Communities Council has the backing of the three main loyalist paramilitary organisations, the UDA, the UVF and the Red Hand Commando
An umbrella group which has the backing of the three main loyalist paramilitary organisations has warned unionists not to vote for the Alliance party.
The Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) was launched in 2015.
In a statement, it said that “any unionist who votes for the Alliance Party is driving a nail into the coffin of the union”.
The Alliance Party has strongly rebuked the LCC position, calling the statement “absurd”.
The loyalist community council has the backing of the Ulster Defence Association, the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Red Hand Commando.
The LCC also said no party has done “more to undermine the Britishness of Northern Ireland, and foment community mistrust and division than the Alliance Party”.
It called for a maximum turnout by unionist voters and endorsed four specific candidates.
They are Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, the DUP’s Nigel Dodds in North Belfast, the DUP’s Gavin Robinson in East Belfast and the DUP’s Emma Little Pengelly in South Belfast.
THE FOUR VERY WELL KNOWN DUP members ENDORSED BY THE UDA ARE Named and PICTURED BElow.
In the first two constituencies, the candidates mentioned are the only unionists running, but in the other two seats the DUP faces competition from the Ulster Unionists.
In a statement, the Alliance Party said: “In sharp contrast to the DUP, who appear content to accept the endorsement of paramilitaries, Alliance is satisfied to accept their rejection of our principled and consistent stand for the rule of law and against all terrorism.
“This absurd statement shows not only the dearth of political analysis within loyalist paramilitaries at this time, but highlights clearly which parties are really willing to take on and challenge paramilitaries, and which are happier to chase and foster their support.
The Loyalist Communities Council was launched in 2015 with the assistance of Tony Blair’s former Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell
In Monday night’s UTV election debate, both Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill and Alliance’s Naomi Long challenged the DUP’s Nigel Dodds to reject the endorsement of a group linked to loyalist paramilitaries.
Mr Dodds replied that his party had always opposed paramilitarism.
Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme on Tuesday, the DUP’s Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said.
JeffreyI do not seek, nor does the DUP seek the support or endorsement of any paramilitary organisation, and we reject any such endorsement.
The Ulster Unionist Party leader, Robin Swann, said: “The Ulster Unionist Party is a party of law and order.
“We have not asked for the support of paramilitary organisations nor do we want the backing of organisations still engaged in paramilitary or criminal activity.”
On social media, former Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has clarified that he has not asked for and does not accept the LCC’s statement of support.
Mr Nesbitt was not one of the candidates mentioned in the group’s election statement.
Tony Blair’s former chief of staff Jonathan Powell played a part in setting up the LCC.
Mr Powell described the formation of the council as the “last best chance” to include loyalists left behind by the peace process
With many thanks to: UTV Northern Ireland, for the original story.
THE BBC had to issue a clarification at the end of it’s flagship programme after Sinn Féin’s Máirtín Ó Muilleoir made claims about DUP rival Emma Little Pengelly’s father.
The pair clashed on The View during a debate between South Belfast candidates for next week’s Westminister election broadcast from St George’s Market on Thursday night. In a heated exchange, Mr Ó Muilleoir refused to appologise for mentioning Mrs Pengelly’s father Noel Little after she urged the Sinn Féin MLA to condemn IRA bombings.
Mr Little was a founder of Ulster Resistance. In 1989 he was arrested in Paris in connection with a plot to exchange a missile stolen from Shorts for South African guns. The weapons sought were destined for the UVF, UDA and Ulster Resistance. After spending two years on remand, he and two others received suspended sentences and fines.
The well known and often bought magazine “The Loyalist” is mainly bought and sold wihin the loyalist community of North & West Belfast. Only to members of the UDA & UVF. Facing criticism from Mr Ó Muilleoir, she accused him of hypocrisy and urged him to condemn IRA acts of violence including the 1996 Manchester bombing. In response, Mr Ó Muilleoir said: ‘I wasn’t sure what point of this conversation I would get to mention your father, Emma, who when my father was being discriminated against working in the Harland & Wolff, was bringing in guns into this country which led to the slaughter along the Island.”
Mrs Pengelly interacted: “I’m going to stop you there.
His name was raised after Mrs Pengelly defended her Westminister candidacy being endorsed in a magazine connected to the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group. Alliance’s Paula Bradshaw called on Mrs Pengelly to publicly reject the endorsement.
Mrs Pengelly said the DUP has “clearly called for the UDA to go away, and all paramilitary organisations”. She added that the article in The Loyalist endorsed her because of the “hard work the DUP have been doing in the community for everybody”. Facing criticism from Mr Ó Muilleoir, she accused him of hypocrisy and urged him to condemn IRA acts of violence including the 1996 Manchester bombing.
Mrs Pengelly interjected: “I think its absolutely appalling for Máirtín to sit there and just say that. Because I think when Máirtín goes back to his group meeting of the MLAs from Sinn Féin and he looks left and right and he sees people in his party that have committed horrendous crimes, and I want him to think how would you feel, how would you feel, if their children – who had no responsibility for the actions of your colleagues – had to sit in a studio and hear abuse like you have given me. It’s a lack of respect, it is wrong and I am going to call you out on that.”
Asked by host Mark Carruthers if he wished to apologise, Mr Ó Muilleoir said: “I will not apologise for bringing up the question of Noel Little who brought in guns to this country. “But if Emma had any self-respect, she would not be trying to lecture other people on the terrible conflict we have been through. “You are the last person, to be lecturing.”
Mrs Pengelly said she has “clearly condemned all paramilitary violence”. At the end of the pre-recorded TV programme, a BBC continuiy announcer said: “We have been asked to point out that Noel Little was never convicted of arms importation to the North of Ireland. “He was given a suspended sentence and fined in a French court for his part in an intelligence plot.”
With many thanks to: Brendan Hughes, The Irish News, for the origional story.