Conservative Party leader Theresa May’s judgement is now even more in doubt, as questions arise over the financial dealings by the ideological extremist Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) with paramilitary group the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).
Culture of crime
What happens to paramilitaries when their organisations disband? Some become politicians, some community leaders, and others turn to more traditional crime. Or maybe even a combination of all three.
Reports have emerged about how the UDA is nothing less than a “brutal money-making machine hooked on violence”. The reports allege racketeering and money laundering activities, with an estimated £20,000 a week extorted from the UDA’s 2,000 members in just one area.
But the serious money comes from DUP-organised funding of UDA-backed projects.
One such project is administered by the £1.7m funded community group Charter NI, headed by UDA brigadier and convicted armed robber Dee Stitt. And in 2016, a further £900,000 was provided to a local sports project run by Stitt.
Other claims include:
- Community and sports associations run by leading UDA figures received funds from the Northern Ireland Executive (the government) in return for UDA endorsement of DUP candidates at elections.
- The office of DUP local assembly member Christopher Stalford is managed by convicted loyalist multiple killer Garnet Busby. The office is owned by Belfast South Community Resources, which is funded to the tune of £7.5m by the Northern Ireland administration.
And claims of links to paramilitaries:
- DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly’s father is Noel Little. He was arrested on suspicion of distributing guns from South Africa to the UDA and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).
- In 2014, the DUP selected former UDA prisoner Sam ‘Chalky’ White as a candidate to stand in East Belfast.
- And in Antrim, the DUP selected John Smyth, who had a string of convictions for loyalist-related terror offences.
‘Ulster Resistance’ connection
Both DUP co-founders Peter Robinson and Ian Paisley prominently associated themselves with paramilitary organisation Ulster Resistance (UR) and attended its 1986 launch. Two years later, a model of the ‘Blowpipe’ missile aiming simulator was stolen from Shorts Brothers factory in Belfast. Noel Little, Samuel Quinn and Jim Long were arrested in Paris in connection with the theft. They planned to swap the simulator for cash or arms from South Africa. The three were all members of Ulster Resistance,
And in 2016, the Police Ombudsman concluded that UR smuggled weapons for loyalist terrorist groups, such as the UVF and the UDA. A report states that UR colluded with terrorist groups to import guns, used in at least 70 murders and attempted murders.
Where crime and politics blur
The overall picture that emerges of Northern Ireland is of a society where politics and crime are closely intertwined. And where politicians and former terrorists are often indistinguishable.
The Conservative Party now seeks to get into bed with the DUP. Even though there are many outstanding questions regarding its links to terrorists. And this does not bode well, for it sends out the wrong signals to extremists everywhere.
– Sign the petition of no confidence in a Conservative/ DUP coalition. Make your thoughts on the deal known. Contact your MP and be vocal on social media.
– Organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
Featured image via Flickr Creative Commons