LOYALIST COMMUNITIES COUNCIL

Unfinished Work

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8.11.17

African orphans benefit from LCC volunteers - Carrickfergus Times

"A Carrick man has spoken of his involvement in a project assisting staff at an orphanage in Africa and the personal development he experienced.

The LCC team of volunteers pictured with David Campbell (LCC Chairman) and Bob Thompson.

Robert (Bertie) McWilliams has returned from Tanzania after spending a month there as part of a Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) delegation.

Bertie was one of eight volunteers from across Northern Ireland who travelled to the east African country under the stewardship of project leader, Bob Thompson.

The group spent four weeks working with the Kidzcare orphanage and schools in Tanzania from September 17. The purpose of the project was to promote team building within different loyalist communities, offer international work experience and personal development and to expose the volunteers to different cultures, religions and challenges, while at the same time benefitting the children of the orphanage. The aim was to make a difference both at home and in Africa.

Ahead of their departure, Bertie was unsure how his special diabetic dietary requirements were going to be met in Africa. He also questioned his participation in the project as he knew he would miss his six-year-old daughter a lot.

Bertie, who works as a window fitter/joiner, was able to use his skills in Africa to carry out maintenance at the orphanage.

Commenting on the duties he performed in Tanzania and his interaction with the orphans, the east Antrim man said: “Straight away we got stuck into general maintenance work around the orphanage and whilst doing that we met the beautiful kids that stayed there.

“All our hearts were touched as these kids really have nothing and they are the most happy and friendly wee kids I have ever met. We soon learned that these kids are very much the lucky ones compared to others, as they have a safe life and love at the orphanage and without the staff they would be desolate and abandoned.

“Listening to their individual life stories would melt the hardest heart. My thoughts went back to my own daughter and I realised just how well-off she is compared to these kids.”

Although most of their time was spent carrying out work around the orphanage, the LCC volunteers were able to experience African culture on a rare day off.

Bertie explained: “We spent our day off by having a beach day with the kids.

“We had a fantastic time enjoying the beach, the warm Indian Ocean and most of all having fun with the kids. The trip home on the bus was amazing with the kids entertaining us with selection of Swahili songs.”

On his return, Bertie, who said he would be keen to volunteer in Africa again, said: “I learned to respect a lot of things back home, such as hot water, food and family. Everyone realised just how well off we are back home and none of us will take things for granted again.

“We went to Africa as strangers and returned as a family of the LCC and we will support each other from now on. I now see things very differently and I am so glad I got the opportunity to do it.”

Bertie would like to thank everyone for their support, the sponsors, the LCC and its chairman David Campbell for the idea and Bob Thompson the project leader for putting it all together.

For more information about the orphanage and the project, check out www.kidzcaretanzania.org"

For more information on this project check out:
LCC Tanzania Project Facebook



18.10.17

Finally the LCC Tanzania Project challenge is over.

All arrived home safe and sound yesterday evening and with the exception of a few mosquito bites everyone is in good health and condition.

One member remarked "the trip started with three groups of strangers and ended with one group of family".

The month away raised some challenges but as each challenge was overcome the bond of friendship grew stronger. The children of the orphanage touched their hearts and have shaped their lives for the future.

This is something we hope to build on for the future helping less fortune people. One very important aspect of motivation is the willingness to stop and to look at things that no one else has bothered to look at. Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

Well done to everyone involved, you are a credit to your community.

For more information on this project check out:
LCC Tanzania Project Facebook



26.9.17

On 12th May 2016 the Loyalist Communities Council launched a Flags Protocol.

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 ask that, as agreed, all remaining flags be taken down on or as soon as possible after Ulster Day – 28th September 2017.

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.



20.9.17

“RED HAND COMMANDO” (RHC) FORMALLY REQUESTS TO BE REMOVED AS A “PROSCRIBED” ORGANISATION

The Loyalist grouping known as the Red Hand Commando (RHC) has officially requested to be removed from the list of proscribed organisations. The request was made in London and will be looked at by the Home Secretary Amber Rudd. At the time of writing it is not known how long it will take for a decision to be made. Reaction to the request has been somewhat mixed.

The application has been made under Section 4 of the Terrorism Act (2000) which allows for members of a banned group to contact the government to request deproscription without themselves facing the threat of being charged with membership. The theory being that deproscription could help an organisation move forward towards integration and obviously away from previous association with violence.

The initiative is being supported by the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC), the umbrella organisation set up by Tony Blair’s former chief of staff Jonathan Powell to steer paramilitaries away from criminality, and the LCC’s chairman, David Campbell, said that Mr Powell supported the application to the Home Secretary. Mr Campbell argued that in retaining the paramilitary name, rather than disbanding, it would be harder for dissidents to seek to revive it at a future point. There has always been a fear that ‘dissident’ Loyalists could use the name of the three main Loyalist paramilitary organisations as a cover for criminal activity.

Senior Loyalist Jim Wilson (a former RHC prisoner) stated that;

“This organisation is not about glorifying murder, bombings, shootings – it happened in a conflict that we got engaged in as young lads and it’s not something that people want to run about and gloat about and to have it pushed into people’s faces. That’s not what deprosciption is about – it’s about allowing us to move to the next phase which is out of conflict, away from what happened in this society and all those people that were hurt by our organisation, Gusty Spence couldn’t have said it any better – it is true and abject remorse. But we were brought up in a society where there was violence and young lads from our Protestant community engaged in it and that’s it – the organisation couldn’t be any clearer; it’s sorry for the people that had to be hurt in this conflict.” 

The words obviously hit a nerve with Gerry Kelly of Sinn Fein as he described the move as ‘abhorrent’. When it was pointed out to him that his actions and the actions of his former IRA colleagues went beyond abhorrent into mass sectarian genocide and that it was hypocritical of him to even comment on this move he decided to skulk off elsewhere. But there was widespread concern amongst victims groups that, in not dealing with the needs of victims and their families first, this type of move could be seen as too soon and too upsetting. Others welcomed the move and saw it as progressive and potentially ground-breaking.

Then there is the “politics” of it all and the repercussions should such a decision be given a positive outcome. Some seasoned political commentators queried what sane government would give the go ahead to legalise a former paramilitary group? What are the benefits to a Tory government when the media exposes Loyalist criminality (or what purports to be Loyalist criminality)? This idea could prove toxic to a government with a slim majority. In turn would those groupings intent on criminality latch on to "legal" groupings to ensure a type of “cover” or veneer of respectability? And the government will worry about the negative headlines around this. Then again the U.K. Government might just offer the suggestion that all this is pointless and groupings should leave the stage voluntarily. Which in turn creates a vacuum to be filled by criminal elements masquerading as loyalists. It is a complex issue indeed.

There is no doubt that within Loyalism there continues to be great desires to remodel and copper fasten the progress achieved during the last decade. Any new initiative to speed up reintegration must be viewed through a prism of positivity if we are to bring everyone forward. The removal of proscription carries with it many risks and it will be interesting to see how the mainland politicians deal with such a request.

End



12.9.17

The Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) welcomes and supports the application to the Home Secretary by representatives of the RHC for their organisation to be removed from the list of UK proscribed organisations.

One of the key reasons behind the formation of the LCC was to assist the three main loyalist groupings in their transformation away from paramilitarism and to work constructively for the benefit of loyalist and unionist communities.

It is many years since the RHC was engaged in violent or criminal activity. Its leaders and members have supported the peace process and have led many initiatives to regenerate deprived Loyalist areas, and promote Loyalist and Unionist heritage and culture.

The LCC hopes that HM Government will recognize that this application is made sincerely and in good faith, and will respond positively.

It is further hoped that this course being taken by the RHC can lay out a road map for the transformation of loyalist groups in general, and that this action might be followed in due course by the other two main loyalist organisations.

End



10.8.17 Tanzania Project

10 Youths from Loyalist communities have been selected to participate in a pilot scheme under the chairmanship of Mr. David Campbell CBE which will facilitate a team trip to Africa for 10 young volunteers drawn from various areas of Northern Ireland. They will undertake charitable work with a local orphanage in Tanzania consisting of a building project (building, painting etc.) and working / interacting directly with the children of the orphanage.

The volunteers will spend 4 weeks working with the Kidzcare (www.kidzcaretanzania.org ) orphanage and schools in Tanzania during September 2017. The purpose of this project is to promote team building, international work experience and youth development with the volunteers and to expose these youth to different cultures, religions and challenges and at the same time benefit the needy children of the orphanage. The aim is to make a difference both at home and in Africa.

Leading the project is Mr. Bob Thompson who recently returned to Northern Ireland after many years living and working in Africa and during this time he was an enthusiastic patron of the orphanage and a close friend of its founders Mary and Robert Nottman. The orphanage and school was founded in 2000 by Mary and has since grown into a number of rural schools catering for over 400 children, an orphanage with currently 30 plus children and numerous health and medical camps giving support to children from all over Tanzania regardless of Tribe, religion or culture.

It will be a challenging project for the volunteers who will travel to very remote and underdeveloped areas of Tanzania where they will be undertaking a classroom building project and also will be preparing a football pitch and running a small tournament for the children. The group will be running a daily blog and doing live Facebook postings during the project

The volunteers from Northern Ireland have been undergoing various training courses such as First aid certificate, Child protection course, building works (brick laying, carpentry and painting). These skills and experience will be of value to the volunteers in their future career choice development and will encourage better community responsibility.

We have been fortunate to have a number of sponsors and core funding for this project. However, we are actively fund-raising and seeking sponsorship for operational costs thus releasing more funds for the children and would encourage all local businesses and residents to support your local community representative in his endeavors. We very much hope to make this an ongoing project in the future and to expand its scope to encompass more diverse communities in our future projects. We are pleased to announce our major private funder has confirmed our core funding for another project in 2018.

LCC Tanzania Project Facebook



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.