British Arts Council funds loyalist murder gangs
The Arts Council has given more than #100,000 of lottery money
to fund unionist paramilitary 'Kick the Pope' bands, including
one closely identified with UVF and Red Hand Commandos.
Nationalist politicians have called for an immediate inquiry
into why the offensive bands have received funding over scores
of deserving applications from other groups.
"This is unbelievable," said Sinn Fein's Eoin O Broin, chair
of Belfast City Arts Subcommittee. "I have written to the
Director of the Arts Council and asked them for an
explanation. We want to know what kind of criteria they have
funded these bands under. That money could be better used to
fund a variety of deserving projects."
The South Belfast Young Conquerors band - which received
#8,614 of the public cash - are open in their support for
unionist paramilitary groups. They have even dedicated an
entire page on their official website to the memory of
ruthless loyalist Stevie McCrea, who was shot by the IPLO in
McCrea had served a life sentence for the remorseless killing
of 17-year-old Twinbrook youth, James Kerr, shot dead as he
walked along the Lisburn Road in 1972. Arrested at the scene,
McCrea told the RUC that he had killed the young Catholic man
because he was a "Fenian bastard".
According to the Ulster Bands Association, the Arts Council
resumed instrument funding to bands in December 2001. Prior to
this, both flute and accordion bands had been excluded.
Meanwhile, nationalist arts groups - such as the highly
acclaimed theatre company Dubbeljoint - have had their
applications for financial assistance rejected. In particular,
the Arts Council refused to fund Joe Mulheron's recent
performance about Irish historical figure Peadar O Donnell.