A ‘charity’ linked to loyalist murder gangs is incredibly attempting to win support for sectarian bonfires in schools in the North of Ireland.
The Action for Community Transformation (ACT) announced this week it would ‘educate’ children with a diorama-style model of a bonfire accompanied by a caravan and hut, both of which had ‘UVF’ daubed on the side.
The paramilitary ‘Ulster Volunteer Force’ remains extensively involved in crime, sectarian and political violence. Earlier this year it mounted a dramatic hoax car bomb attack on a peace event in Belfast.
‘ACT Initiative’, which has convicted killers on its board of directors, posted the images of the models on one of their Facebook pages last week. The post has since been deleted.
There was outrage on social media at the effort to indoctrinate children with bonfires notorious around the world for their displays of anti-Catholic hate.
The registered charity receives hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money from so-called ‘peace funds’, including £365,000 from the Dublin government, but which has led to accusations of state collusion in paramilitarism.
Last week there were claims the UVF could ‘end its ceasefire’ to press home its demands for a hard Brexit border through Ireland and an end to what it describes as ‘interference’ by the Dublin government.
The UVF and UDA are supposedly proscribed (illegal) organisations, but the normalisation of loyalist paramilitaries and the impunity afforded them is being blamed for increasing levels of violence by both organisations.
The High Court in Belfast this week heard how a businessman was targeted in a UVF blackmail plot, and told that his cars and property would be burnt out if he did not pay a drug debt said to be owed by his son. Meanwhile, the UDA has been issuing death threats against the family of one of their recent murder victims in response to their campaign for justice.
Aontú has called for an investigation into why loyalist paramilitaries are allowed to operate unhindered in the north of Ireland. The party’s west Belfast representative, Gerard Herdman, has asked whether it is down to “incompetence or deliberate policy”.
Mr Herdman said questions must be asked about the relationship between loyalists, the PSNI, and British intelligence services.
“What is the hold that loyalists have on the PSNI and British intelligence services?” he asked.
He said this is “an obvious question, given that they continue to exist and thrive two decades after their stated ceasefire”.
“They are recruiting new blood to their ranks and putting them to work in drugs, prostitution and extortion,” he added. “So, it is not a matter of waiting until the ‘old guard’ pass on, since a whole new generation is there to take their place.”
He pointed to the common belief that the UVF and UDA are both in a strong position due their holding a “bank of evidence” on British collusion which has given them a “get out of jail free card”.
“Aontú is calling for a public inquiry into why these paramilitaries are being tolerated”, he concluded.