I was born and spent the first few years of my life growing up in Belfast; as things became more dangerous, it was the mid 70’s, we moved to a little town called Antrim. I was born to a very proud Shankill man and a mother from York Street in the city, it was love across the barricades. As a side note, the moment they got married they moved to South Africa, Johannesburg no less as the felt that might be safer.
Antrim was a loyalist stronghold, a DUP town and a place where we were never left in any doubt about our place, we were often reminded of it; frequent parades, flags on every fixed object, painted kerbstones from one end of the town to the other, periodic beatings of Catholics when they were found and many a chase through the streets. You never walked past certain places, never walked in or past certain housing estates and never took a taxi. (See the Cucumber Punk Incident)
One of my earliest memories of the DUP in Antrim was getting Ian Paisleys autograph when I was about 8 years old. There was a huge parade on in the town and well, everyone else was doing it, so I joined the queue and proudly presented the piece of paper with his signature to my parents. The abuse I got from my brother went on for the subsequent 32 years. I guess that if he reads this he will probably not miss an opportunity to remind me of my foolishness.
The next vivid memory involving the DUP was when I got trapped in my car at the wrong end of town and had to sit like a lemming while 25 bands marched passed, hoping no one would recognise me. That parade was led by the South Antrim DUP politician William McCrea. As one of the bands was passing a local supermarket, one of their numbers spotted a Catholic they recognised emptying the bins at the side of the building.
The entire parade was brought to a standstill as the bandsmen and their comrades downed tools in the middle of the street and headed en mass toward the building at a frantic speed. The young lad made it back into the store by the skin of his teeth while the bandsmen howled at the door. The politicians, crowd, and remaining bandsmen all thought this was hilarious.
I thought I was about to watch a man get kicked to death.
Here’s a picture of my MP at the time, one Reverend William Mc Crea, on stage with the UVF leader and mass murderer Billy Wright. It’s important to see these things up close and personal sometimes. Don’t let Wrights suit fool you.
In 2010 the moderate Alliance Party won the East Belfast seat for Westminster from the DUP after countless DUP scandals. Their then leader, Peter Robinson, was caught with his hand in a number of tills and his wife was in a relationship with a much younger man, one she knew from childhood. Alliance won the seat as the UDA instructed its members and the wider community to vote against Robinson as they weren’t getting their way while he was embroiled in so many scandals.
In 2012, a DUP staffer for the area distributed inflammatory leaflets targeting the Alliance party over the flags issue at City Hall. The Alliance party weren’t responsible for bringing the flags issue to a head, but they were the target as the DUP wanted the seat back. This leaflet sparked months of flag protests, riots and probably cost a couple of million quid to diffuse. Alliance lost the seat in the next election in 2015.
The Social Investment Fund was set up to distribute finance to community sector organisations, with a budget of 80 Million there was a lot to play for. That this was a mismanaged DUP fund is neither here nor there, the mismanagement, in particular, is expected to cost an additional 13 million. This additional spend will have to come out of the Assembly coffers. Unless the new DUP deal with the conservatives takes it off the rest of the UK. (See the RHI black hole below). The UDA-linked Charter NI got £1.7 million of this public money for use in East Belfast.
Just prior to the last election the LCC organisation, the ‘representative group’ for Unionist paramilitaries including the UDA, released a statement telling local residents to vote for the DUP. Before you start, I don’t buy the Loyalist / Unionist split, its semantics; calling a thug a loyalist is an easy way for Unionist representatives to distance themselves from violence. I’d say the time for that distance is over.
It took over 48 hours for the First Minister, Arlene Foster, to reject this paramilitary support. 48 hours. Arlene Foster now holds the Conservative Party, in Government, to ransom. The DUP has been linked to paramilitaries for 40 years. To suggest otherwise is to deny fact, the DUP will scream from the rooftops that they are not linked to the UDA, every action from both suggests that the DUP depend on the UDA for election wins and fund them with public money.
While I won’t condemn funding ex-paramilitary organisations who work for the good of their communities and develop communities it is clear to me that this is not that. The DUP have been less than effective in their East Belfast stronghold, unemployment is rife, there is a community adrift who feel that no one is in their corner. The paramilitaries prey on the hoplessness of the young. Many an outsider would suggest that they are right, there is a huge need for investment, education, jobs and community cohesion.
How much of this money will make it to the communities where it is needed most?
Not a lot.
The DUP, now in Government, is propped up by a paramilitary organisation that is still active, still involved in money laundering, punishment beatings, and murder. This is the party that uses anti-democratic tools to deny equal rights for LGBTQ communities, ( and not just in Northern Ireland) uses racist language, has tried to get CREATIONISM into Schools and even into the Giants Causeway visitors center.
The DUP brought us the SAVE ULSTER FROM SODOMY campaign, has described homosexuality as worse that child abuse and manages to put its foot in their mouths more often that can fit in one blog. To suggest they are socially conservative probably doesn’t go far enough.
After calls were made to halt RHI fund, Arlene Foster stepped in to insist it continue, leading to additional costs the Stormont assembly will have to cover, in the as yet untold millions. This latest scandal of DUP mismanagement has still not been settled.
Stormont is a gaping hole in East Belfast, the Assembly is not sitting and the Governments ability to act as an independent mediator could easily be called into question now the DUP are in Government. Given all of the above, I would suggest that the DUP aren’t fit for a local Government never mind having a near total veto over the UK Government. And yet…
There was a suggestion that this post might be enhanced by a quick run through the DUP and Dark Money. Given the political and societal unrest over the last 40 years, Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where political donations do not have to be declared. This has led to some interesting situations. This article probably gives a better overview of the issue than I could. If that is a little TLDR; the DUP received an undeclared donation from a secretive group to the tune of £425,622 and spent almost £300,000 on a pro-Brexit ad. The DUP, on top of all of the above, are being used as a conduit to get undeclared, dark money, into British Politics. Democratic?
If this issue with dark money is a mystery to the Conservatives then I would ask them to tell us all who and what the Constitutional Research Council are. The organisations chair is noted to be former Scottish Conservative parliamentary candidate, Richard Cook. Surely, someone in Government, could lift the phone to this gentleman and find out what’s going on? You know, for the sake of transparency? Transparency here is important, Mr Cook was listed as a director on another company alongside the late Prince Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz, former head of the Saudi Intelligence services. Yes. The Saudi Intelligence services. As an aside, this gentleman was father to the current Saudi Ambassador to the UK.
The CRC paid the above sum into the DUP coffers for a wraparound ad in the Metro, a host of other pro-Brexit materials and not a word of this murky deal has ever been explained. As an aside, The Metro is not distributed in Northern Ireland. Why would Jeffrey Donaldson from the DUP be paying for Brexit advertisements in publications that his constituents will never see? Someone somewhere needs to explain this. I won’t hold my breath on the Prime Minister giving a statement anytime soon.