Process in crisis as Stormont rots


There are concerns over the political direction in the north of Ireland after a video emerged which appears to show a heavily armed breakaway IRA unit on patrol in north Belfast -- in the same week that the police confirmed that unionist paramilitary activities are being illegally funded from Stormont.

Few doubted that the Six County Executive has been channeling funds to active UDA paramilitaries via the ‘Charter NI’ organisation before it was confirmed by the PSNI this week. However, the development has increased pressure on the British government to move against the Stormont Executive.

“I would believe certainly that there maybe are individual or individuals linked to Charter who have certainly been recently active ,” Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin told BBC Radio interview on Friday.

In response, a statement on behalf of DUP First Minister Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness described the comments by ACC Martin as “not insignificant”, but questioned why the PSNI had failed to take action.

“Where there is evidence of criminal activity, we expect the police to investigate and bring those responsible before the courts. Courts and jail are the only place for anyone involved in paramilitarism,” they said.

However, the political stalemate over the issue, which has already delivered millions into the hands of UDA paramilitary gang bosses, appears set to continue. Several elements of the organisation are known to have been rearming in recent months, while the cash handouts are also said to be behind ongoing violent feuds among rival factions of the organisation.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said was seeking a meeting with the PSNI to discuss the comments.

“It’s important to acknowledge that legitimate community organisations and community activists make a huge contribution to society. It is unfortunate that their efforts are being overshadowed by the criminality and paramilitary activity of a tiny number of people,” he said.

“Therefore I will be urging the PSNI to ensure that where there is any evidence of criminal activity they do all in their power to bring those responsible before the courts.”

The controversy over ‘Charter NI’ comes as new questions are being raised over corruption within the Stormont administration. It has emerged that key documents which could have confirmed illegal activity in relation to the infamous billion pound ‘Project Eagle’ property deal have been destroyed. It was also revealed this week that tens of millions of pounds of public funds have been wasted by the Executive because of obvious flaws in a ‘green energy’ scheme.


Meanwhile, the appearance of an apparent IRA patrol on the streets of north Belfast has dramatically raised concerns over a potential renewal of conflict. The ‘show of strength’ video, which appeared on social networks, could not be independently confirmed, and there has been no claim of responsbility.

It shows three masked and armed men patrolling the streets of Ardoyne in north Belfast. One of those filmed was carrying an RPG rocket-launcher, while another is carrying an automatic assault rifle.

The Provisional IRA deployed RPG rockets against the British Crown forces for over two decades, but the breakaway groups have never successfully fired the launcher. In 2014, the ‘New IRA’ claimed responsibility for a homemade rocket attack on a police Land Rover at the City Cemetery in west Belfast. The device was detonated by a command wire as the police patrol passed the City Cemetery on the Falls Road.

Mr Kelly dismissed those responsible. He said those behind the latest video “need to wind up, wise up and go away.” He added: “Their only war is with the people of Ardoyne. No-one will be taken in by their appearance in fancy dress.”

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