Stephen Dempster investigates how loyalist paramilitaries control some communities and asks if a new Stormont plan to end paramilitarism can work.
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It's decision time for the paramilitaries.
Stormont has agreed another pot of money to encourage them away
from violence and crime.
But this time it says if Republicans and Loyalists don't leave the stage,
a major crackdown is coming.
Have previous government and police efforts to keep the men of violence
in the peace process, turned the paramilitaries into mafia
gangs that are too tough to crack?
Tonight, we focus on the activities of the UDA and how police
and government attempts to engage with its community representatives
have appeared to legitimise the organization and
undermine the rule of law.
And we ask is Stormont capable of putting the paramilitaries out
of business, once and for all?
It's Monday afternoon on the peace line between the Shankill
and the Falls.
A steady stream of tourists comes to survey the wall of concrete
and steel that divides the two communities.
It's territory that Shankill community worker
and Pastor Jack McKee knows well.
Well, I have led here virtually all my life.
I am 64 years of age now.
My mother was from the Shankill.
Jack remembers the wall going up.
We knew that it was cutting off the other side from the Shankill
Road and it was removing some of the fear yes it was welcomed.
Nobody thought that it was going to be up for this long.
His work here is all about breaking down barriers.
There's a church, sports hall and a coffee shop attracting people
living on both sides of the wall.
The building was ideal because it literally straddles the Shankill
and Falls Road and it straddles both communities,
and for that reason both communities are coming into this
centre every single day.
But there is a problem.
So you are going to take me down to what is the peace line
and show me the gates?
The gates have been here since 1969.
For nearly four years, Jack has been campaigning
to get the peace gate here at Northumberland Street
to stay open in the evening.
It closes at 6:30pm.
Anyone wanting to come into our building from 6:30pm
at night need to, if they are coming from the Falls Road they need
to travel through the Shankill community.
And, er, I am not suggesting that they are at risk, but that
certainly places them at more risk than having to just
To come through these gates.
We understand that a recent Housing Executive survey found that
a majority of people in the area had no problem with the gates
being opened later.
Stormont wants to remove all the interface barriers and walls
in the city by 2022.
It's seen as pivotal to a shared future.
So why won't it open the gates later?
We've been told the answer is that loyalist paramilitaries
from the Shankill want the gates closed in the evening.
That as so-called defenders of the community, they want these
barriers kept in place.
Back in 2013, former Justice Minister David Ford met
Jack McKee and supported the idea of the gates opening later.
He now confirms paramilitary representatives were pushing back
against the plan.
There were on the Shankill side of the line, those
who were literally regarding themselves as gatekeepers,
who sought to use influence to not have the gates
opened too much.
And to be clear, the people on the Shankill side,
that were lobbying the department not to open the gates longer,
would it be fair to say they were representatives
of the UDA and UVF?
I couldn't attribute any individual to any specific organisation,
but that's certainly my belief, that there were links between, er,
some of those people, and the two organisations.
This comes as little surprise to Jack McKee.
A senior police officer did say to me in front of two members
from department of justice that I was part of the problem
as I wouldn't go and talk to paramilitaries within the Shankill
Road about the opening of these gates.
I was affronted by that.
I've been attacked by paramilitaries had my home attacked by them,
been sentenced to death by them.
I buried young men in our church and other places murdered
by paramilitaries in our own community.
Why would I want to talk to them about opening gates?
I want to talk to department of justice about these
gates being open.
Many people believe the way in which government and the PSNI
consult paramilitary representatives, grants these groups
an unofficial role in running and policing communities.
The PSNI does not deny a relationship with certain
paramilitaries and that relationship is now under scrutiny.
Jack McKee says a police chief inspector told him you need to go
and talk to the paramilitary.
Well, I don't know about the details of the gate opening
and who influences what over that.
What I'm saying is, that we will not do anything to legitimise
paramilitary leaders as paramilitary leaders.
Now there is a grey area.
And for some reason, there's this schizophrenia where they're
a community representative by day and then they take a paramilitary
badge or label by night.
I'm not condoning that, I'm not an advocate for it,
I think the paramilitary should go away, frankly.
I don't want to do anything to legitimise paramilitary groups
but there also needs to be a pragmatism around how
and when police engage with community representatives
who may still have some sort of paramilitary trappings associated
to them or are believed to be so.
But let me be clear.
We will never be so close to these people that we can't do our job.
It is 22 years ago this month that Loyalist paramilitaries
announced their ceasefire.
The combined Loyalist military command will universally cease
all operational hostilities as from midnight on Thursday,
13th October 1994.
It was here at Fernhill House, at the top of the Shankill,
where that statement was made.
It was a ray of hope that the terrorists were on a path
to peace and disbandment.
But it's an event that's faded into history and in the intervening
years, there have been many more false dawns.
As politicians, churchmen and even presidents have tried to convince
the UVF and UDA to leave the stage.
Last year, Stormont's Fresh Start Agreement acknowledged the extent
to which paramilitaries, on both sides of the divide,
remain woven into communities.
And the political deal pledged a new effort to disband the groups.
A paramilitary disbandment panel was set-up to investigate
the problem and delivered a report in June this year.
It made for stark reading about the extent to
which paramilitaries control certain areas.
They are a threat to democracy and rule of law more than an actual
threat to the peace process.
On the Loyalist side, it was extremely worrying individual
gangsters and the structures of criminal gangs,
and the recruitment of young people not necessarily for the war,
but to do anti-democratic jobs, pushing drugs, selling drugs,
and that's controlling those young people and in a coercive fashion.
Once in, they couldn't get out.
That has to stop.
It reminded me of what I saw on the south side of
Chicago, with gangsters...
In 2016, come on.
This is the Lower Shankill, in 2016.
Nowhere has the paramilitary scourge been more overt over
the years than here.
20 years ago, this was home to Johnny Adair and his notorious
UDA unit, C Company.
Adair was ousted in a UDA coup, in 2003, but the paramilitary grip
on this area didn't end there.
It's early Saturday morning and this is the Shankill Estate.
One of the first things you're welcomed by is a UFF/UDA mural.
So there is a mix of murals, UFF graffiti,
and UDA flags on houses.
More UDA plaques, there's definitely a stamp of authority on the estate.
There no doubt that the presence of the UDA and UFF is still here.
Fear of the UDA stalks this community.
Over recent weeks, we've had to meet secretly with people from here
because they were frightened of being seen talking to us.
They spoke of punishment beatings, attacks on homes, and exiling
of people, still happening on a regular basis.
The victims are those who defy the UDA.
And most often young people.
One person who crossed the local UDA was 23-year-old Neil Orr
from the Shankill estate.
He was a kind soul.
He was bubbly, he was funny.
He was witty.
He would have given you his last.
Just always there for everybody.
Neil was addicted to his prescription medication and began
buying and selling extra tablets to feed this habit.
His cousin Tracey Coulter says this brought him to the attention
of C Company in July 2013.
She says the UDA demanded he join the organisation and sell
drugs for them.
But he said no.
The torturing started.
You know, getting cars to drive past his house, or if he was
walking up the estate, cars was following behind him,
making him more paranoid than what he already
would have been.
did suffer from mental health issues as well?
The threats included these texts messages, which Tracey says
were from a senior UDA man on the Shankill,
sent to Neil's phone.
Under stress, Neil began taking more tablets.
He overdosed and died.
Our Neil left behind two kids and a pregnant girlfriend.
He didn't even get to see his other wee son being born.
He is missed.
It's hard when you know he's not...
You're not going to see him again.
Tracey blames the UDA for Neil's death.
And the pressure put on him is not unique.
If you cross the UDA on the Shankill,
you pay the penalty.
Last year, C Company members nailed one young man's hands
to a kitchen worktop.
We also know of parents, frightened their children
will face similar fates, having to take out loans
for hundreds of pounds
to pay-off debts their children owe the UDA for drugs.
So who are the people that run the Lower Shankill UDA or C Company
as it is known?
We met with a loyalist from the area.
He agreed to be interviewed if we protected his identity
as he fears for his safety.
What he says echoes what others have told us.
His words are spoken by an actor.
Nothing goes on without UDA's knowledge.
And if anybody does anything wrong, it'll be brought
to their attention by somebody.
Most of them are thugs, that are into extortion, drug dealing.
Anything to do with money, they're involved in it.
Whether it's cigarettes, whether it's drink,
whether it's clothes, they're involved into that.
Spotlight has spoken to well-placed sources who have told us that
C Company is making between ?20,000 and ?40,000 a week profit
from the sale of drugs alone, mainly cocaine, cannabis
and prescription pills.
Three key men run C Company.
Meet Mo Courtney.
Now in his mid 50s, he was jailed in 1991 for robbery and hijacking,
and became a leading UDA figure in the Maze prison.
This is him pictured during tensions at that
time of a loyalist feud.
He was later jailed for the manslaughter of Shankill
man Alan McCullough, who was killed by the UDA in 2003.
Mo Courtney's always had rank within C Company.
He used to be there with Johnny Adair, from that squad.
Mo Courtney is the man who pulls the strings.
Everything goes through Mo.
And this man is Dee Coleman, the 30-year-old so-called
Provost Marshal of C Company.
He joined the UDA as a boy, his first conviction was related
to the feud in 2000, when he was aged 14.
Our source says Coleman was a protege of Johnny Adair.
He started stealing cars for them.
He just got involved in local thuggery, riots, things like that.
Anything where money was involved, Dee Coleman was there
involved with it.
Aged just 21, in 2007 Coleman was jailed for extorting money
on behalf of the UDA.
In recent years, he has been fined for possession of an imitation
weapon and drugs offences.
And, finally, this is Denis Cunningham.
Spotlight has met him before.
You may not recognise him with his mask off.
Because this is Cunningham filmed in 2002, reading a UDA statement.
The Ulster freedom fighters wish to make clear that they don't
use any other name as a flag of convenience.
Cunningham was later jailed for fronting this
paramilitary press conference.
Our sources say he is the overall commander of C Company.
But he doesn't get his hands dirty by being involved in the drug
dealing and criminal activity.
He hasn't got a reputation.
It's just the men he knows, that he's been round.
He can speak words, he's an educated person.
So therefore he knows what to say.
And how to say it.
These are the paramilitary godfathers who control
the Lower Shankill.
On a day-to-day basis senior members of the UDA are often based
in the Lower Shankill Community Association, here
on the Shankill Road.
There are volunteers and staff here not involved in the UDA.
It runs education, training and youth outreach programmes
and works with the Housing Executive and police on issue
of community concern.
But while it is engaged in this work, locals we have talked to view
this building in another way.
The Lower Shankill Community Association - do you know
what they are used for?
C Company headquarters.
That's where it all happens from.
And why do you say that?
You've a problem with the UDA, you go to the offices.
You speak to Denis Cunningham.
Or Dee Coleman.
After her cousin Neil died of a drugs overdose,
Tracey Coulter came here to raise her concerns
about his death.
She says she arranged to meet this man at the office.
He's Matt Kincaid.
Matt Kincaid's a brigadier of west Belfast.
So, I went round to speak to him, to, um, let him know
just how badly overrun that the lower Shankill had got,
because of all the drug dealing in it.
I just want to be clear on one point.
You'd arranged to meet Matt Kincaid, the west Belfast
brigadier of the UDA.
And why at the Lower Shankill Community Association offices?
Because that's where the UDA run, that's basically
like the UDA headquarters, the Lower Shankill
That's where you go to talk to the brigadier.
When she arrived for the meeting there was no sign of Kincaid.
But there were other people in the office.
Whenever I got there...
Um, and the minute I walked in, Dee Coleman was there
and Mo Courtney was there, and Denis Cunningham was there.
Obviously there was going to be some kind of confrontation because this
had all been brewing.
A heated argument broke out between her and Coleman and then
Mo Courtney got involved.
He jumped up and says, "Get out to lock."
and I told him to go and lock himself and mind his own business.
And then he jumped off the chair and head butted me, and grabbed me
by the throat and then assaulted me.
Tracey called the police to the offices and made
a complaint against Courtney.
She claims that in the four months between the assault and the case
coming to court, she then suffered a UDA campaign of intimidation.
And from the July, and the court case wasn't till the December,
from then till the December, my name was spread
all round the walls, Tracey Coulter, PSNI informer.
They would gather all round my house, walking past it.
And I lived with CCTV, etc., so the police
were being called constantly.
They threw paint round my windows, with my kids present.
Um, they threw paint in the streets, when I was walking down
with another girl.
It just never stopped.
Despite this, Tracey gave evidence against Courtney,
and he was convicted of assault.
The case was not treated as paramilitary related.
But Tracey says that in court she made clear her belief that
Courtney is a UDA member.
She also says Courtney's solicitor described his client
was a community worker.
We wanted to know more about the Association
and what it does.
Its mission statement says it: "plays a pivotal role
"in the physical, social and economic regeneration
"of the Shankill area".
In particular, it has had a lot of publicity,
and a lot of money for replacing some of the UDA murals in the area
with new community friendly art.
But as we have seen, many UDA murals remain
to advertise the UDA's control.
Despite the community group's links to the UDA,
we've discovered public funding of the organisation has been
To date, the group has not published its accounts.
But through Freedom of Information requests we have calculated that it
has been granted around ?650,000 of government money,
over the last five years.
Some of the funding is used to employ several staff,
including the area UDA commander Denis Cunningham
as a community worker.
And this man, Ian McLaughlin, the Association's project manager
and a member of the local Ulster Political Research Group
the political advisors to the UDA.
We asked Lower Shankill Community Association, Mo Courtney,
Dee Coleman, Denis Cunningham, Matt Kincaid and Ian McLaughlin
if they wished to respond to the points in this programme.
None of them replied to our letters.
Tracey Coulter and her children were eventually forced
to leave the Shankill.
Their home was set on fire in December 2013, within 72 hours
of the court verdict against Mo Courtney.
The DUP and police quickly condemned the attack.
But Tracey says the police wouldn't name the UDA as responsible,
because they said they didn't have the evidence to do so.
And she also says political support for her quickly disappeared.
Days after the fire at her home, she met then DUP Social Development
Minister Nelson McCausland.
Basically what I wanted from Nelson McCausland
was I wanted to ask, I wanted his word, were,
were they, um, involved in funding the Lower Shankill
And basically sharing with him, that I don't think that
offices should be funded.
Tracey was effectively asking the Minister for Transparency
about how public money was being spent on the Association.
She says she asked Mr McCausland about the funding of the Association
and he said he would investigate and get back to her.
Three years later she's still waiting.
Mr McCausland is familiar with the community association.
Here he is on a visit to the Shankill in 2011,
pictured with Denis Cunningham, who was there in his role
as a community rep, as opposed to his role as a UDA commander.
On that occasion Mr McCausland was getting the Association's
input into future housing plans for the area.
In a statement, Mr McCausland said that during his meeting
with Tracey Coulter he advised he could not name the UDA
as responsible for the attack on her home until he got a PSNI
assessment that this was the case.
He added, Tracey had then told a newspaper the meeting with him
was "a waste of time".
And he decided any future meeting with her would be unwise,
as it "might well be misrepresented."
When he met Tracey Coulter, Mr McCausland's Department
of Social Development was funding the Association.
In fact, according to figures we requested under Freedom
of Information, the Department was paying the rent for the building
and all major staff costs.
We asked the Department, given Tracey's concerns
about the association's links to the UDA, if an investigation
into its funding has taken place.
It is aware of allegations of both criminal and paramilitary activity
taking place at Lower Shankill Community Association
and of PSNI investigations.
But it added it was satisfied that the specific allegations
were not connected with the community activity
supported by its funding.
The Department said it is not aware of anything that would put at risk
public funds being made available to the organisation.
It seems, as long as there is no misuse of public funds,
the department is happy to continue paying rent for offices which it
knows are allegedly linked to criminal and paramilitary activity.
While accepting that the police have investigated an assault
at the offices, the department doesn't say it has made its own
inquiries into that matter.
And it continues to fund the group.
Tracey Coulter's experience sounds very familiar and I think it's
really an indictment of the whole system.
I don't think, erm, public bodies and, erm,
politicians are frightened that the paramilitaries
are going to do something to them.
They don't do anything because they don't want to rock
the peace process boat and they want to continue
with the cosy relationship, erm, with these guys that
makes their life easy, that's what's at the bottom of it.
The recent independent investigation into disbanding paramilitary groups
recognised this situation.
But how did it suggest we change it?
The investigators said the door should remain open to those members
of the groups who truly want to move on and reintegrate into society.
They have called for barriers to ex-paramilitaries
and their families, in terms job opportunities, insurance
and travel to be removed.
They have also argued funding of community groups linked
to paramilitaries is a risk still worth taking, but it has to be
more strictly monitored.
You need good accountability and transparency and legitimacy.
Don't give it to people who are known to be
gangsters and doing this for the wrong reasons.
But, in return for support, the disbandment panel wants groups
like the UDA to now move towards leaving the stage for good.
Critics say we have tried all this before and it hasn't worked.
Well, I thought the panel report was a load of old guff.
I mean we have been throwing money at this problem endlessly
for the past two decades.
What I think we need is for the police and
the state to get serious and to just do their job.
The politicians have to let the police follow the evidence no
matter where that leads.
And certainly depressed areas of Northern Ireland do need funding,
they do need cash injections but they don't need that money
going through the prism of paramilitary hands.
But the independent investigators say they've a new get-tough policy
for those paramilitaries who do not take advantage of this moment
to end their activity.
Everyone is now beginning to realise that, er, paramilitary organisations
are not simply going to wither away.
And they're going to have to be tackled, and those who are moving
to a different place need to move, and move quickly.
And those who aren't need to be dealt with.
There needs to be a zero tolerance, and there needs to be whatever
legislation or regulatory powers, that need to come into place.
To move forward, er, aggressively, towards the dismantling,
frustrating and disrupting of these organised crime groups.
Around ?25 million will be available to law enforcement agencies,
to try to achieve this dismantling of the groups
and their organised criminality.
But will police and politicians see this task through?
The disbandment panel report warns that politicians, the PSNI
and public bodies often work too closely with the paramilitaries
or their community representatives and this is a major problem.
During our investigation into the Lower Shankill Community
Association we were told that police attend monthly meetings
in the offices, along with other public agencies and politicians,
to discuss local issues.
And some local people have told us their perception is that the UDA
and PSNI police the area jointly.
The panel says that this situation "cannot become a permanent norm",
as it is damaging public confidence in the policing and justice system.
It has become almost an expedience, to deal with some of these senior
figures, to try to quell problems that have arisen.
That creates a situation within the communities, where
they seem to be the go to people.
And that has an effect on the notion of normal law and order,
within the communities.
When police officers are seen to be engaging with people
who are known in the communities, to be senior paramilitary figures.
Would it concern you?
Your community officers would be in the Lower Shankill Community
Association officers on a regular basis,
those officers are also, erm, frequented by UDA members,
and members of the public in lower Shankill are saying to us I'm not
going to go and speak to the police, the police
are in cahoots with the UDA.
Well we're not in cahoots with anyone, we will engage
with community groups, we do that right across
The Lower Shankill Community Association is with the police,
with the housing executive, with other government
To make communities safer and better.
None of that is acquiescing to the UDA, none of that is
legitimising the UDA.
What we're doing is trying to do what we call policing
with the community.
Do you accept that's undermining public confidence
in your force when...
When the public sees those relationships?
Well, I'm not sure that it is because first of all, we'll only
engage with people er who alleged to have these paramilitary
connections for a policing purpose.
So, whatever the engagement is in practical policing
terms to assist.
With parades and protest activity there will always be a healthy
distance between us and people like that so that we can do our duty
as police officers.
But the independent panel does not agree.
It has warned that the PSNI needs to distance itself
from paramilitaries in communities like the Shankill because
it does potentially compromise the rule of law.
The police may have their own reasons for doing that,
but as we say in the report, there comes a time when that
umbilical cord that was once needed, perhaps for them to get intelligence
or to have some kind of control over what is going to happen next week,
it keeps everything peaceful, it needs to be broken.
Others believe police are taking the flak for the situation
on the ground and it is a lack of political leadership at Stormont
to take on the paramilitaries that is the real problem.
I think it's a fair assessment to say that some people
in paramilitary groups have direct links to some people associated
with the two parties of government, and that is clearly a major issue.
David Ford says while the Fresh Start Agreement said it will tackle
paramilitarism, nothing concrete has yet happened.
I would like to see a real, genuine action plan,
investments and timescales, so we know that the culture
is changing, and that those who are standing up for lawful
activity are being supported, and that requires
leadership from the top.
Based on what I've seen so far, I find it difficult to see
that the Executive is actually going to live up to the responsibilities
accepted a year ago.
I don't want anyone under any illusion as to what my determination
is to deal with these.
There is a fork in the road coming.
It is coming up very soon, I want to see the police
moving in and taking these people out of society.
But if there are those who are deciding that they want
to move away from violence and intimidation and paramilitarism,
then we will work with them.
One week after the Fresh Start Agreement was signed,
last year, Aaron McMahon, whom we reported on earlier this
year, was in his workshop, beneath the family home
in the Clandeboye area of Bangor when two masked men burst
in and attacked him with a hammer.
I just turned round at the last minute and both guys were sort
of on top of me then.
It's really just a case of trying to protect yourself as best you can.
The wife was screaming, the kids were squealing,
crying, it was a complete mess, you know.
Aaron fought off the attackers and suffered minor head injuries.
The attack came after Clandeboye Village Community Association,
of which he is chairman, had opposed North Down UDA erecting
paramilitary flags in the area and taking over their 11th
night community bonfire.
The leader of this paramilitary faction took great offence
at the stand I was forced to take through lack of leadership
from the politicians and the police.
That paramilitary leader is this man, the Commander of North Down
UDA, David Stitt.
Stitt is also the Chief Executive of leading community organisation
A position which comes with a public salary.
The Board of Charter NI has said it has full confidence in all staff
within the organisation and does not condone any illegal activity.
David Stitt has told Spotlight he rejects the allegations
against him and says his work for Charter NI is positively
influencing people away from involvement
in paramilitary life.
Two men were charged with assault on Aaron.
But, like Tracey Coulter before him, he is furious that the PSNI refused
to treat the case as paramilitary linked.
He believes that to have done so would have upset the relationship
the PSNI has with North Down UDA.
It would upset this sort of paid for pretend peace that everyone has
sort of bought into has been sold.
They don't want to jeopardise that.
Give us a hand with this table, love.
In June this year charges in the case were dropped due
to insufficient evidence.
Meanwhile, intimidation of Aaron's family by some local UDA members has
continued this summer.
Aaron's daughter Gaynor recently called the PSNI after being followed
in a car by a known UDA man.
He says police gave her several options for what they could do,
and one was that an officer could speak to the man's UDA boss
to get it to stop.
The PSNI have told Spotlight no such offer was made.
But Aaron and his family are adamant it was and angry about this denial.
Tracey Coulter and Aaron McMahon have said to us that
when they were attacked by the UDA your force
refused to name the UDA as being responsible.
Why is that?
They feel totally let down by your police force.
Well, erm, it's always difficult whenever you get into talking
about specific cases, erm, but er we will name
organisations when there is an investigational
or an operational reason to do so.
Is it not a societal reason to do so?
Well, if there is, that's one for the politicians
because our job is to, er, secure evidence and bring
people before the courts.
I feel very much like a sitting duck Stephen and have done
for a while now.
The police, in my opinion have become so weak in this and issues
like this and these groups have become so strong
that they are almost untouchable.
When Spotlight reported on Aaron McMahon earlier this year,
for legal reasons we did not mention the hammer attack.
But we did name David Stitt as the commander of the UDA faction
who had been intimidating people in Clandeboye.
And we also told the dup Aaron felt it had abandoned his community
in the face of this intimidation because the party didn't
want to upset ties they have with elements of the UDA.
The DUP denied this was the case.
But last week, this was First Minister Arlene Foster.
Standing on her right is UDA commander, David Stitt at a Charter
NI event in East Belfast.
She was approving the award of a ?1.7 million government
contract to the community group.
You're pictured last week with UDA commander David Stitt,
he is in charge of faction in North Down that's been
intimidating members of the local community and you're
the First Minister of this country and your pictured with him,
surely you're turning a blind eye.
If you're being pictured with that man?
I'm not turning a blind eye.
What I'm doing is I'm trying to encourage people to move away
from their past.
I mean, for goodness sake, we're in a mandatory coalition
with Sinn Fein who are part of the republican movement
who were killing people, killing people of my
community, for many years.
Are you seriously suggesting that I walk away from the loyalist
community and not try to bring them along and try to get them away
from whatever past they've been involved in?
But it is in the present that Aaron feels Fresh Start is "empty words."
He and his community association were prepared to take a stand
against UDA intimidation in their area.
But he says politicians and police have undermined his
faith in law and order.
Would you do it all again, Aaron?
I don't think so, Stephen.
I think too high a price has been paid.
Especially for my family, in order for us to keep up
this facade of peace, I think we are sort of seen
as collateral damage in many respects and that's a sad indictment
of where we are in 2016.
Once more, Stormont is planning to pay paramilitaries to go away.
There's no doubt previous efforts have strengthened the peace process
but there are those who argue they've effectively legitimised
these groups, giving them a new kind of community control.
So, is this really a new dawn, or simply history repeating itself?