LOYALIST COMMUNITIES COUNCIL

Unfinished Work

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05.6.17

STATEMENT ON THE GENERAL ELECTION ISSUED BY THE LOYALIST COMMUNITIES COUNCIL

Embargoed to 0700, 5 June 2017

The Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) urges every unionist and loyalist voter to ensure they turn out and vote for unionist candidates in the forthcoming general election. Sinn Fein, and the other anti-unionist parties are seeking to capitalise on the uncertainty created by the collapse of the Stormont Executive, and the impending Brexit negotiations to move Northern Ireland away from the United Kingdom. This will only succeed if unionists fail to register their votes for unionist candidates.

The LCC deplores the unwillingness of the main unionist parties to co-operate to maximise unionist representation at Westminster. In constituencies where there is a risk of losing a seat to republicans, we ask that unionists vote for the unionist candidate most likely to win that seat. In particular we offer the following guidance:

In Fermanagh South Tyrone we ask that every unionist votes for Tom Elliott
In North Belfast we ask that every unionist votes for Nigel Dodds
In East Belfast we ask that every unionist votes for Gavin Robinson
In South Belfast we ask that every unionist votes for Emma Pengelly

If there is a maximum turnout of the unionist electorate not only will three unionist seats be protected but a fourth (South Belfast) will be won back for Unionism.

The LCC particularly warns all unionists and loyalists against voting for Alliance Party candidates. Many unionists think they can retain their unionism yet vote for Alliance candidates. They are sorely mistaken in that belief. No party does more to undermine the Britishness of Northern Ireland, and foment community mistrust and division than the Alliance Party. Any unionist who votes for the Alliance Party is driving a nail into the coffin of the Union. This Party must be rejected at the polls by all unionists and loyalists.

The LCC will be continuing its efforts after the general election to encourage greater co-operation amongst unionists to ensure that unionist representation in Councils and in any future Assembly is maximised.

END



01.5.17

Proposals on Past open path to Truth – By Winston Irvine

How we think about the future in Northern Ireland is inevitably informed by the past and the processes and mechanisms we develop to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

This should not be about drawing a line under the past – it is both unfair and inappropriate that we should ask people to draw a line under their suffering and pain – but rather about drawing a clear line between the past and our present and future. This process is complex and convoluted and is one that a series of agreements – including the most recent Stormont House Agreement – have failed to come to terms with and there remains no clearly articulated and logical approach.

The recent report published by the House of Commons Defence Select Committee (Investigations into fatalities in Northern Ireland involving British military personnel) makes an important and valuable contribution to the argument.

A starting point is the assertion (noted in Select Defence Committee report) by Professor Kieran McEvoy and Dr Louise Mallinder (Truth, Amnesty and Prosecutions: Models For Dealing with the Past, 2013) that “the duty to investigate does not amount to a duty to prosecute.”

Here, they are distinguishing between the requirement for ‘independent’, ‘effective’ and ‘transparent’ investigations of incidents involving fatalities under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the need to prosecute based on the outcome of any investigation. In other words it is possible to have a legally compliant investigation without prosecution. This is of significant importance in how we think about legacy and the past as it provides a context through which victims, survivors and their families have the best possible opportunity to retrieve information about what happened by allowing for thorough investigation without the fear of prosecution. In this way it provides a context through which we can begin to draw a clear line between the past and our present and future.

The Defence Committee report, which it should be noted had a focus on military personnel involved in the Troubles, recommends initially an “enactment of a statute of limitations,” covering all Troubles-related incidents, up to the signing of the 1998 Belfast Agreement, which involved members of the Armed Forces” (p. 17). However, it also states that a future government may also wish to consider “whether the statute of limitations should also cover all Troubles-related incidents” (p. 18), that is be extended to include all state and non-state actors. Such a statute of limitations provides a framework through which the fear of prosecution can be removed, allowing for thorough and transparent investigation.

It is inevitable and understandable that for many victims and survivors from all backgrounds, such a statute of limitations may be both difficult and unpalatable. However, it remains the best possible context through which legacy issues can be resolved.

It provides the space through which we can develop a comprehensive and bespoke approach to supporting victims, survivors and their families rather than one that is piecemeal and divisive. Too many complex, and sometimes contradictory institutions only serve to prolong suffering.

This approach should include properly resourced provisions so that all survivors and bereaved families can avail of the best possible services in terms of health and wellbeing, education and employment. It also paves the way for effective information and truth retrieval. Loved ones will have a much greater chance of finding out those details and answers they are desperate to hear. We all have a duty to ensure that the past is not a burden and liability for future generations who bear no responsibility for the conflict and should not continue to suffer from its consequences and legacy.

If we are to move forward together as a society, then a statute of limitations for state and non-state actors covering all conflict related cases offers the most effective way of providing information and truth for bereaved families and moving Northern Ireland toward a more stable, tolerant and peaceful future.



28.9.16

On 12th May 2016 the Loyalist Communities Council launched a Flags Protocol in recognition of important centenary events taking place this year in relation to the Battle of the Somme.

Its aim, to prevent our national emblems being left on display in a dilapidated state and asking that steps were taken to prevent this occurring.

We would like to take this time thank everyone for the widespread support and for making this a successful initiative and showing respect and tolerance for others. We also ask that, as agreed, all remaining flags be taken down today, Ulster Day – 28th September 2016.

Flags and emblems are highly potent symbols of community allegiances and are important demonstrators of our Loyalist and Unionist heritage and culture.

Please treat them as such - many thanks.



20.5.16

LCC Press Release - Archbishop meeting

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Dr Justin Welby today hosted a luncheon and meeting with representatives of the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) from Northern Ireland.

The meeting was held at the invitation of the Archbishop, for him to be informed of the origins and work of the LCC; in particular its role in committing former loyalist paramilitary groups to the peace process and opposing all forms of criminality; and its work to address severe educational under-achievement in loyalist communities. During the meeting, the LCC members and the Archbishop discussed issues relating to social justice, peace and reconciliation and resolving the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

The Archbishop heard about the impact of educational under-attainment, particularly in relation to working-class Protestant young men, as well as the long-term problems relating to high levels of suicide in disadvantaged communities. The delegation re-affirmed its commitment to ensuring that Northern Ireland remains peaceful and stable, and to addressing ongoing divisions between communities. The delegation also highlighted the importance of how any legacy process should be comprehensive and inclusive and not marginalise the loyalist community.

The LCC discussed the assistance that they need in helping Northern Ireland deal with painful legacy issues. They also discussed with the Archbishop the importance of developing young leaders within working class Protestant communities and initiatives that might develop the capacity of young people and expose them to a wider range of influences and experiences.

The LCC members presented the Archbishop with a copy of ‘Bangor – Light of the World’, an historical account of the evangelism of Saint Columbanus from Bangor Abbey, Co. Down written by the eminent Ulster historian, Dr Ian Adamson.

The LCC was represented by David Campbell (Chairman), Richard Monteith (Secretary), Winston Irvine, Jackie McDonald, and Robert Wilson.



12.5.16 - 11AM

STATEMENT BY THE LOYALIST COMMUNITIES COUNCIL

Since the new year, the LCC has been consulting on the need to adopt protocols for the flying of flags, and the erection of eleventh night bonfires, in an attempt to demonstrate best practice in our communities, and mutual respect for those of differing opinion.

The LCC is aware that flags and emblems can be highly potent symbols of community allegiances and are important demonstrators of our Loyalist and Unionist heritage and culture. In recognition of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme the LCC would encourage all commemorations to be conducted in a spirit of respect, pride, and enjoyment.

The LCC would wish to prevent our national emblems being left on display in a dilapidated state and would ask that steps are taken to prevent this occurring.

Accordingly, the LCC has agreed the following protocol for the display of flags and emblems. The LCC cannot enforce this protocol but appeals for its widespread adoption, and adherence to, in Loyalist and Unionist areas:

1. The national flags of the United Kingdom and of Northern Ireland should be displayed and flown in our communities in a respectful manner, in places where they will command such respect and not be used for provocative purposes, and they should be maintained in good order.

2. In recognition and respect for the service and sacrifice of the 36th (Ulster) Division in this centenary year of the Battle of the Somme, a special commemorative Ulster Division centenary flag has been produced by the LCC. This flag, which features the emblem, and battle honours of the Ulster Division, along with the national flag, will be erected on arterial routes in our communities subject to appropriate respect being shown in the vicinity of churches, schools, and other cross-community buildings.

3. The Ulster Division flags will be erected during the month of June, 2016, in time for the 1 July centenary. They will be taken down promptly after Ulster Day, 28 September 2016.

4. With regard to the erection of eleventh night bonfires the LCC would emphasise that it has no responsibility for any bonfire site.

5. The LCC would appeal to all bonfire organisers to ensure that the sitting of bonfires, the choice of combustible material used, and the adornment of any bonfire should at all times have respect for public safety and security of home and business owners, and the safety of those attending bonfire lighting.

END



Who we are?

We will play a full and meaningful role in connecting loyalism to civic society and work to grow confidence within detached loyalist communities in Protestant areas.

We recognise that the Northern Ireland Assembly, which we continue to support, is not inclusive of the loyalist community.

We accept the democratically expressed will of the electorate, however a vacuum in loyalist communities has been created which has led to significant disenchantment with politics, and to our communities being largely ignored and neglected.

It is no coincidence that the attainment levels of working class loyalist young people are the lowest in the UK.

It is our desire to make a meaningful contribution to reversing this situation, to give our young people hope for the future, and to help bring structures which will improve our communities and protect our culture.