A not unsurprising exclusive from the Irish News in Belfast, claiming that the ultra-right Democratic Unionist Party consulted with representatives of the illegal Ulster Defence Association-Ulster Freedom Fighters and the Ulster Volunteer Force in the days before the sudden collapse of talks to renew the regional power-sharing executive at Stormont. According to the newspaper’s security corespondent, Allison Morris, members of the DUP briefed the terror gangs by phone on the 11th of February, specifically on the possible implementation of the long-awaited Irish Language Act for the north-east of the country. These contacts recall the controversial events of 2017 when UDA-UFF and UVF activists campaigned for several of the party’s candidates in the northern assembly and Westminster elections.
While the party continues to deny any agreement on an Irish language act, The Irish News understands members were involved in a series of late-night phone calls to hard-line loyalists about the content of a draft deal.
…The Irish News understands that senior loyalists with links to both the UDA and UVF were briefed that a deal had been reached, with the message that it would “only enshrine in legislation” rights already available to Irish speakers.
One UDA-linked loyalist said they were told of the agreement in a late night phone call on the Sunday prior to the arrival of prime minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Stormont.
They were briefed that it wasn’t an act, standalone or otherwise, but only amounted to setting existing rights into devolved legislation.
“We were asked to trust the party, that they’d reached a deal but it wasn’t an Irish language act and that Sinn Féin would not be getting any of their other demands,” a senior loyalist said.
“We were asked to reassure our people that there would be no rolling over to republicans.”
The hardline DUP boss, Arlene Foster, has made a risible attempt to deny that any official discussions took place between her party and the pro-British militants, telling the Belfast Telegraph that such contacts might have happened without her knowledge:
Speaking to the media in Brussels where the party was meeting Brexit talks chief Michel Barnier, she said she had “absolutely no knowledge” of any briefing.
“If briefing did happen it was not on my behalf or the behalf of the DUP,” she said.
“I’m not saying it didn’t happen, I am saying if it did it was not on my behalf or on the behalf of the DUP.”
Which is one of the weakest denials I’ve seen from a senior politician in a long time. However, it highlights yet again that there is less than six degrees of separation between Theresa May’s minority Conservative Party government in the United Kingdom, which relies on the parliamentary votes of the Democratic Unionist Party’s ten MPs to stay in power, and the Irish-slaying gunmen of the UDA-UFF and UVF.
Meanwhile, the Tories have agreed to conceal the origins of the mysterious “dark money” laundered through the DUP’s coffers during the group’s advertising blitz against Britain’s membership of the European Union in the Brexit referendum of 2016. According to the Guardian:
Ministers will whip Conservative MPs to block a move to reveal donations to the DUP during the EU referendum, which Labour has said is “doing the party’s dirty work”.
The government is set to help the Northern Irish party conceal details of past political donations, including a highly controversial sum given during the referendum, despite a 2014 law that extended party transparency rules to Northern Ireland.
The rules on transparency were to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK, which first introduced in legislation in 2014 with the wide understanding it would be applied from that year.
However, the government has since said the transparency rules will apply from 1 July 2017, which would mean donations during the EU referendum in 2016 will not be made public.