The 26 County Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, has been funding organisations linked to unionist paramilitaries who have been threatening to assassinate him, it has emerged.
A paramilitary-linked “charity” received £365,000 from a Dublin government funding scheme backed by Coveney himself, who was recently the target of a hoax bomb attack by the same UVF loyalist murder gang.
Coveney was instrumental in ensuring the group “Action for Community Transformation” (ACT) — which has four UVF figures listed as “trustees” — received cash from the International Fund for Ireland (IFI).
The International Fund for Ireland is run by the Dublin and London governments, with financial contributions from the USA, the EU, and elsewhere, ostensibly to promote “contact, dialogue and reconciliation between nationalists and unionists throughout Ireland”. However, an unknown quantity of the money has been quietly paid into accounts controlled by loyalists involved in the murder gangs.
Future funding may now be in doubt after the UVF targeted Mr Coveney and openly threatened to kill other Irish politicians. Late last month, the organisation staged a high-profile hoax bomb attack, forcing a terrified van driver to transport a device to an event in Belfast at which Coveney was speaking and successfully disrupting the event (pictured). Another hoax alert in Warrenpoint, County Down last Saturday has also been linked to the same organisation.
The Dublin government has pumped millions of pounds into loyalist paramilitary hands over the years. Some of it has gone to other paramilitary-linked groups including those aligned to the UDA, which has also now threatened to mount attacks. The UDA is believed to have been responsible for a bomb alert targeting north-south train services this week.
Speaking in Derry on Friday, Taoiseach Micheal Martin did not answer questions about his government’s indirect funding of loyalist paramilitary groups, but said unionist opposition to the Irish Protocol of Brexit “must always be peaceful”.
His government, Mr Martin said, will “never dismiss genuinely held concerns around the protocol”.
The taoiseach told the event that his government “listens very carefully to the concerns of all communities in Northern Ireland”. They “are working very actively with our EU partners to listen and engage on them,” he added.
“But any opposition must always be peaceful - that is simply fundamental,” he said. “There are democratic and lawful means for all concerns to be raised and resolutions worked through, that is where our focus must remain.”