MAKING POSITIVE CHANGE - SAFER STABLE COMMUNITIES

Criminality, money lending and in particular drug dealing are perhaps the biggest threat to the future stability of working class unionist communities across North Belfast. Unfortunately, a legacy from the conflict which continues to impact on our communities today is the continued reliance by some,  on criminality, money lending and drug dealing inherited from the Andre Shoukri regime. 

North Belfast UDA has turned its back on criminality and drug dealing thus completely reversing Andre Shoukri's legacy of criminality and drug dealing whereby Shoukri and his cohorts, under the auspices of the UDA, lined their own pockets for personal gain. Indeed Shoukri lined his pockets to such an extent that he personally gambled a million pounds through a local bookmakers. This wasn't UDA money Shoukri gambled, but community money and funding gathered through crime proceeds, extortion and drug dealing. Thankfully the wider UDA as an organisation took a stand against Shoukri and unanimously agreed to stand him down as Brigadier. This led to a process of positive change taking place, with the North Belfast membership being consulted as to the future direction and role of the North Belfast UDA

PROMOTING SAFER STABLE LOYALIST COMMUNITIES

Criminality, money lending and in particular drug dealing are perhaps the biggest threat to the future stability of working class unionist communities across North Belfast. Unfortunately, a legacy from the conflict which continues to impact on our communities today is the continued reliance by some,  on criminality, money lending and drug dealing inherited from the Andre Shoukri regime. 

A new brigadier was selected to replace Shoukri, and, slowly but surely, positive change began to happen. All criminality carried out in the name of the UDA had to stop. This included drug dealing, criminality against the community and extortion. It was no longer acceptable for members or others to use the name of the UDA as protection for their criminal deeds. It was no longer acceptable to be a loyalist and a drug dealer or a loyalist who inflicted crime against people and families from their own community. Nobody was exempt and communities were encouraged to contact police if they were victims of crime or if they were aware of criminal activity in their own community. 
NORTH BELFAST

UPRG

NO TO CRIMINALITY

NO TO DRUG DEALING

NO TO TERROR

HELPING TO FREE

COMMUNITIES

FROM THE

SHACKLES

OF THE PAST

In order to build community confidence in this positive change, a local policing and community safety partnership was established by North Belfast Community Development and Transition Group as a pilot project in the Tigers Bay and Mountcollyer areas. This provided a table of accountability whereby police, statutory agencies, business reps, church representatives and community representatives would hold each other to account in order to monitor each others commitment and actions to deal with local crime, anti-social behaviour and drug dealing. Communities were encouraged to move away from the "tout" or "informer" culture into a normal society culture whereby residents were both encouraged and expected to report criminality directly to police without fear of any negative paramilitary influences.
Unfortunately the legacy of crime left by Shoukri and subsequently Bill Hill continues to operate albeit on a much smaller basis than before. Numerous successful police operations has seen criminals responsible for crime in loyalist communities being taken off our streets. 
Drug dealers have been driven underground, no longer able to ply their trade openly in our streets and thieves who steal and rob from local pensioners, families and small businesses are finding themselves in front of judges for sentencing.
Individuals, such as an expelled Tigers Bay UDA commander Bill Hill,  and other expelled UDA members who are drug dealers, and a foolhardy so called "upstanding member of the community", all associates of Shoukri, are still trying to disrupt local community led policing initiatives from dealing with illegal money lending, drug dealing, intimidation and criminality.  All of these lowlifes avoid any form of welcome or community support for the Tigers Bay community led Policing and Community Safety Partnership, rather they have absolutely nothing than more crime, intimidation and unrest to offer this community.
More ominously, a few of these individuals in their desire to control communities, have, with the help of a "so called respected member of the community", been plotting and planning ways and means of undermining not just the North Belfast UPRG  but that of the entire UPRG family and organisation. Their latest actions, which are of an extremely dangerous nature, may result in major significant problems which could contribute to the destabilization of loyalism across the City. 
These same people pose as "super prods" and "saviours of Ulster"  in order to camouflage their true intent which is about promoting drug dealing and enjoying wealthy lifestyles earned from criminality and numerous illegal fundraising and selling schemes. 

 ALEXANDRA PARK - THE FACTS!

 Dispelling the Myths...

There have been a number of claims and allegations made in relation to anti-social behaviour arising from the launch/opening of the Alexandra Park Peace gate on the 16/09/2011. Such claims and allegations include almost nightly incidents of ASB involving groups of young people of up to 300 in number who faced up to each other on launch day, to smaller gangs involving youths and individual young people being involved in daily/nightly ASB attacks and incidents.   

In order to reassure the local communities and growing number of Park users, Alexandra Park steering group, with the support of North Belfast Community Development & Transition Group, requested information from the Police detailing reported Anti-Social Behaviour incidents associated with Alexandra Park or the immediate area (this is based on all the incidents being linked to the correct geographical location since the peace gate was opened). To this end, please see the following information from police;

On 16/09/2011 (the day of the official peace gate launch, by the DOJ minister) there were no incidents of note that have been linked to either Alexandra Park or the immediate area (this is based on all the incidents being linked to the correct geographical location.

In the financial year April 2011 /12 there were 9 reports of Anti-Social Behaviour

In the financial year 2012/13 there were 13 reports of Anti-Social Behaviour

In the current financial year 2013/14  there have been 3 reports of Anti-Social Behaviour


The GOOD NEWS is!...

Whilst not perfect, the above statistics represent and tell a very different story in relation to the SUCCESSES of the Alexandra Park Peace gate initiative! 

The opening of the peace gate has provided valuable access to many residents of both communities! 

Park users, dog walkers, families and individuals now use this area openly and freely for a number of leisure activities without fear of becoming a victim of serious anti-social behaviour. 

Indeed since the opening of the peace gate, general and sectarian related anti-social behaviour associated with the Park and in the area of the nearby Limestone Road interface has substantially reduced!    

Excellent partnership work involving the Community, NIHE, Belfast City Council, Police, DOJ and Youth providers continues to promote and deliver Safer Stable Interface Communities!

ALEXANDRA PARK PEACE GATE!
SUCCESSFUL, INNOVATIVE, and UNIQUE COMMUNITY LED PEACE BUILDING INITIATIVE 

 We present one of the feature articles in this month's edition of The Loyalist.

SOUTH BELFAST UPRG – “UNITY OF PURPOSE WILL GET US THROUGH THESE DIFFICULT TIMES”

This month’s edition of the Loyalist Magazine contains a statement from East and South Belfast Ulster Defence Association. It has created a certain amount of furore yet it needed to be published. South Belfast UPRG has a commitment to not just analyse political and social issues but to give advice and appropriate feedback. This is a perfect example whereby we do so in the hope of elucidating and informing the wider Protestant Loyalist Unionist community to allow all interested people to reach a better understanding and thus form their own opinions.

North Belfast Ulster Defence Association has been the subject of a pernicious propaganda war by a group of disaffected people. Many of these people have a vested interest in removing the leadership of North Belfast. Why is this? The criminality that was once rife in North Belfast has been openly challenged and thwarted in the last few years. This has been achieved through partnerships being formed with statutory bodies and agencies and delivered in a lawful and transparent way. In other words North Belfast has changed with the times and has achieved some outstanding results through cooperation and sheer hard work on the ground. This has not gone down too well in some circles and we see this dissatisfaction through mischievous Facebook postings and a campaign of harassment against hard working community workers. 

The statement accurately reflects the feelings of both East and South Belfast. We believe in North Belfast and we believe in the unity of purpose that we all share. North Belfast has suffered immensely over the years and it would take too long to fully explain the trials and tribulations that they have had to endure. They came through it then and they will come through this rather ill conceived ‘plot’ by expelled members and criminal elements now. They have our support and they have the support of the community they represent. 

The post Good Friday Agreement transformation of communities was never going to be easy. It was never going to be fully embraced by everyone. What we see in North Belfast is also being experienced in other areas; criminals attempting to muscle in on communities in transition, young men challenging those who would want to work hard in the community and being encouraged to do so by expelled members in the background. We have also witnessed drug dealers desperately trying to ‘protect’ their patch and deliberately creating instability. North Belfast has had to suffer this and has achieved a great deal of success. Success breeds envy and many of the Facebook postings and Twitter rants are the work of a small clique of family members and ‘associates’ of troublemakers and malcontents. They will not succeed in destabilising our community and our organisation.

The overall picture is not bleak and it is not overly concerning. We have had these issues before and we will no doubt have them again. Let us be very, very clear; our unity of purpose is absolute. It is resolute. And it is fundamental to our whole ethos, that being service and dedication to our culture and our community. The work that continues to evolve in East, North and South Belfast is a powerful indictment of those who would criticise us in the shadows. We are moving forward and no amount of jealous sniping and uncorroborated nonsense can stop this momentum. 

As already stated, North Belfast has our full and unequivocal support. We will not flinch from supporting them and we will not be held to ransom by the incessant moans of a gaggle of bitter underachievers and troublemakers. We are so grateful to those who have already offered their support from far and wide and we commit ourselves to reaching a satisfactory conclusion in this matter.

“Quis Separabit”; a phrase often said and often used as the one thing that we can all believe in. We hear it all the time and we use it incessantly, almost as a mantra, to show that we are unflinching in our desire to stay together as one. We stand behind this phrase now and we stand behind it always. It binds us and holds us and will always unify us. If you can believe in one thing, believe in this.


Quis Separabit.

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