Loyalist mouthpiece works for ‘peace charity’

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There have been calls for an investigation into a ‘peace-building charity’ after it emerged one of its board members is a loyalist spokesperson who has been linked to recent threats of violence.

Until last week, ‘Loyalist Communities Council’ spokesman David Campbell was a board member of Co-operation Ireland, a so-called cross-border organisation which receives support from both the Dublin and London governments.

Campbell has served as the public face of the combined loyalist paramilitary organisations UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando for the past five years, and recently communicated threats against Dublin government ministers.

The LCC spokesman joined the board of Co-operation Ireland in 2010, and has received considerable media attention in recent months for his warnings of loyalist violence in response to unionist grievances ranging from Brexit to the policing of the Bobby Storey funeral last year.

Campbell has been feted by national media organisations, including state-run BBC and RTE, for his sinister warnings.

Earlier this month, he issued a statement that the Six County Justice Minister Naomi Long described as a “veiled threat” of paramilitary attacks.

The statement he delivered from the loyalist umbrella group said ministers and officials from the Dublin government were ‘not welcome’ in the North.

The LCC criticised both the Dublin and London governments, and claimed the latter was risking “significant political and community instability” with its pledge to provide for the rights of Irish language speakers.

The LCC also urged the DUP to stop the “constant flow of concessions to Sinn Féin”, even it meant the collapse of the institutions of the Good Friday peace agreement.

Co-operation Ireland advertises itself as an “all-island peace building organisation” which operates “programmes targeted at young people and marginalised communities”.

Its vice chairmman is the staunchly pro-unionist former Fine Gael leader, John Bruton, and its board has included a number of prominent right-wing and anti-nationalist figures such as former PSNI Chief George Hamilton, former 26 County Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, former DUP leader Peter Robinson and Britain’s new unionist ‘envoy to the US’, Trevor Ringland.

Historian Brian Feeney said he found it “astounding” that Mr Campbell had been allowed to remain on the board of the body for so long, only resigning in recent weeks. He said the LCC “has no mandate.”

“I believe there is far too much indulgence of David Campbell – I can’t imagine a representative of Saoradh would be given the same prominence or exposure.”

Mr Feeney said Co-operation Ireland should have sacked Mr Campbell from its board “a long time ago”.

“I find it astounding yet not entirely surprising that David Campbell was able to act as LCC frontman and Co-operation Ireland board member for five years,” he said.

“This latest threat from the LCC directed at Irish government ministers and officials is just the latest in a long line of sinister sabre-rattling.”

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