State funding for loyalist intimidation
State funding for loyalist intimidation


The appearance of painted kerbs and flags at a new housing estate in Antrim has been described as “inflammatory”.

It comes as government payments have been issued to the unionist paramilitary UDA and UVF, ironically in return for not putting up loyalist flags in the area.

Images of the estate have been shared on social media in recent days showing two Union Jacks and other loyalist flags raised over the development, and the kerbs leading into it painted red, white and blue.

The development affected is located on the Belfast Road in the Ballycraigy area of Antrim town.

Local SDLP councillor Roisin Lynch said the people behind the flags and graffiti are “narrow-minded” and “do not speak for the majority in Antrim”.

Politics professor at Ulster University, Duncan Morrow described the situation as “intentional coercive control through sectarian intimidation”.

In a post on social media, he called for the attempts to claim the estate as unionist territory to be removed by the authorities “and the Paramilitary Crime Task Force should investigate and monitor for evidence of further threat”.

But it has been reported that the flags were put up after a deal was struck between loyalist paramilitaries and government officials for a cash payout ahead of the Protestant marching season.

While details remain unclear, public funds have once again been diverted into the coffers of loyalist paramilitary groups by officials acting in apparent collusion with the UDA and UVF.

The funds have been linked to a separate project by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council which has seen over £80,500 in cash handed to loyalist ‘community groups’ ahead of the marching season.

No political party has commentated on the issue, but political commentator Chris Donnelly hit out at the media silence over the funding of loyalist paramilitarism.

“This should be a major news story. The government officials involved should be appearing before a Stormont Committee. This serves only to bolster the criminal gangs to the detriment of ordinary people,” he said.

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