Dark Money Coalition- The original Unionist Voice articles republished

Unionist Voice has republished both original articles in our 'Dark Money Coalition' investigation which exposed the exploitation of the Romanian community in south Belfast by a Sinn Fein MLA and a Romanian gang-master.

PART ONE– 2 August 2018

Unionist Voice has carried out an extensive investigation into Sinn Fein’s exploitation of the Roma community in South Belfast.

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We have uncovered a shocking alliance between Sinn Fein’s MLA Mairtin O’Muilleoir and a Romanian gang master named here for the first time as Nicolae Nicola.

We have a number of key findings:

• Nicolae Nicola, a close associate of Sinn Fein’s South Belfast MLA Mairtin O’Muilleoir, is in fact a ‘gang master’ responsible for forced begging, threatening Romanian families and running brothels using trafficked young Roma women in the student Holy Lands area of South Belfast.

• Nicolae Nicola’s organisation, Romanian Roma Community Association, had £74,000 of funding withdrawn from it due to serious concerns over financial mismanagement, which it is understood is being investigated. Mairtin O’Muilleoir publicly complained about these funds being re-located to another part of the Roma community, despite being told in a meeting with statutory agencies that there had been serious financial mismanagement and concerns raised about the exploitation of vulnerable Roma families.

• Mairtin O’Mullieor brought Nicolae Nicola to a Brexit debate in Stormont AFTER being made aware that Nicolae had threatened a member of Belfast Trust staff with “his friends in the IRA”.

• RRCA have been charging Roma families up to £300-£500 for providing what is supposed to be a free benefits service. This money is then split between Nicolae Nicola and republican agitator Gerard Rice.

• Prior to the 2017 Westminster election Mairtin O’Muilleoir addressed a meeting of the Roma church community at the City Church and promised them financial support to cover the Roma community renting facilities at the City Church on University Avenue. The meeting was then shown mock ballot papers and told they should vote for O’Muilleoir. Many of the Roma community who were present cannot speak English and were therefore visually shown how they should vote by Nicolae who was at this time an employee of LORAG, which has a number of Sinn Fein members on the board.

• In return for the ‘support’ shown to O’Muilleoir, he held up his side of the bargain and purchased a new sound system for the church, and paid the rent for the Roma communities facilities for one year.

• On the day of the 2017 election Sinn Fein, working alongside Nicolae Nicola, provided transport from RRCA to Botanic polling station, again bullying members of the Roma community- some of whom are extremely vulnerable and with poor English- into voting for O’Muilleoir.

• Mairtin O’Muilleoir is fully aware that Nicolae Nicola provides Romainian workers to Bryson House recycling and other businesses and as part of this the ‘gang master’ takes a substantial cut of the worker’s wages.

A whistle-blower within the Roma community in South Belfast has lifted the lid on the exploitation of the Roma community by the gang-master who is under PSNI investigation.

Nicolae Nicola is given legitimacy by virtue of Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O’Muilleoir’s very public support, in return for the gang master using his ‘influence’ to ensure that the Roma community vote for Sinn Fein at election time.

The whistle-blower said “Nicolae controls the Roma community with an iron fist because he provides some of our most vulnerable people with work at Bryson House and at other places, but he then takes a cut of the wages. You have to give him payment if you want work.”

When asked whether Nicolae Nicola was involved in any criminal activities the whistle-blower said “yes, I think he was recently arrested. The police were definitely at his house. Our people stand at the side of the road in the mornings hoping someone will pick them up for a days work, if you aren’t picked up than Nicolae will put you to work begging. I know of one person who was stopped by the police and they were visited that night by Nicolae and told if they mentioned him to the police then he would have their family murdered back home. It is also well known that some young Roma girls who have already been trafficked are used as prostitutes in the Holy Lands area and Nicolae gets a cut of this money as well.”

It was also confirmed that RRCA, working alongside prominent parades agitator Gerard Rice from the Lower Ormeau group LORAG, have also being charging substantial amounts of money in return for providing what is supposed to be a free benefits service. The Belfast Trust are aware of these issues, and it is understood this contributed to their decision to re-locate £74,000 of funding for Early Years provision.

A senior source within the Belfast Trust said;

“There were serious concerns around financial mismanagement. We were also aware of vulnerable members of the community being exploited by the RRCA, a fact that was made very clear to Mairtin O’Muillieor but he did not care, he wouldn’t hear a bad word said about Nicolae Nicola.

The source continued “A member of our Trust staff was threatened by Nicolae, she went to the PSNI and was given an alarm, she has been off sick since. Mairtin knew this as well, but he couldn’t care less.”

“Despite the lies spread by Sinn Fein, the funding wasn’t taken from the Roma community, it was re-located to another venue in an effort to stop legitimising the RRCA, who were not only exploiting vulnerable members of the Roma community but charging them extortionate amounts of money to provide what should be a free benefits service.”

Despite numerous warnings from statutory agencies, Mairtin O’Muilleoir has continued his close relationship with Nicolae Nicola and his criminal enterprise. The reason for this is a private arrangement between the Sinn Fein MLA and Nicolae.

In return for political support and financial assistance to pay for the rent of facilities used by the Roma community at the City Church, Nicola bullies the Roma community into voting for O’Muilleoir.

The whistle-blower confirmed this understanding within the Roma community, he said;

The Sinn Fein elected man (Mairtin O’Muilleoir) has come to our church meetings before the last election, and again in recent months. He promised us money to cover the rent of the room for our church meetings if we would vote for him. We were then shown copies of election voting papers by another man and told this is how we had to vote. I have good English so I was able to read perfectly well and understand what was being asked, but many people cannot speak or read English so they were just voting for this man because we were told he would give us money for our church. This was before the election. He came back again a couple of months ago and told us we had to support Nicolae and that Sinn Fein would then be there for all of us to help us and our families.”

He continued “but I am not fooled. Everyone is scared of Nicolae and this man (O’Muillieor) is making sure he is the only way the Roma community can get help and this is all because Nicolae and Gerard Rice make sure that the Roma community vote for him.”

Our source confirmed that Mairtin O’Muilleoir did keep his promise to provide financial assistance in exchange for votes, by buying a new sound system and paying a years rent for the hire of a room at the City Church.

It was further revealed that after the funding was recently re-located by the Belfast Trust O’Muilleoir and Nicola had provisionally organised a public protest, but cancelled it because some members of the Roma community had said they would attend and raise questions about financial mismanagement

It appears that Mr ‘Brightside of the road’ is working hand in glove with the dark side, namely a brutal gang master exploiting members of a minority community.

The South Belfast MLA has tweeted his support for the RRCA on a number of occasions.

PART TWO – 3 August 2018

Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O’Muilleoir today claimed to have initiated legal proceedings against Unionist Voice for what he described as our “junk” article in relation to the exploitation of the Roma community in South Belfast by Mr O’Muilleoir’s trusted associate, Nicolae Nicola

In response to this Unionist Voice is not only standing over the allegations we published last night (2 August 18), but providing further details this evening in the form of an exclusive interview with a whistleblower.

We have posed a series of questions to our whistleblower, whose identity is being protected due to fear of reprisals from criminal elements. We have also been contacted by a number of other persons today, both within the community sector and statutory agencies, keen to provide information. Unionist Voice will protect the identity of sources no matter what and urge anyone that wants to provide further information to contact us.


Can you explain Mairtin’s connection to the Romanian community, and specifically Nicolae Nicola and his father?

Mairtin`s connection is through an organisation named Romanian Roma Community Association for NI (RRCANI).

This organisation is a basically a criminal enterprise that exploits the Roma people and siphons hundreds of thousands of pounds in tax payer`s money to Romania each year. It is run by Nicolae Nicola and his family members.

Mairtin is aware that this is the case as this organisation is supported by LORAG. The majority of people associated with LORAG are part of Mairtin`s campaign team in South Belfast, including Gerard Rice who is the main point of contact.

Can you expand on exactly what financial payments were made to RRCA for the facilities at the City Church in return for votes and how these votes were then delivered?

Mairtin paid RRCANI from his own personal money to ensure that the Roma people voted for him. He paid 1 year`s rent for their church, bought audio-visual equipment and 300 chairs for their church.

On the day of the Assembly election Mairtin was personally in RRCANI when paid LORAG employees and Roma community leaders including Nicolae herded up to 300 Roma from there to the polling station and instructed them how to vote. The majority of these people are illiterate and had no idea what they were doing.

Was Mairtin O’Muilleoir definitely in RRCA himself on the day of the election? And was he present when Nicolae and LORAG employees were instructing Romanians how to vote? This is absoloutely crucial, was he personally in the building and could he see and hear this going on?

Yes. He was definitely 100% in the building and he could definitely hear and see what was going on.

How do you know Romanians believed this was the man they had to vote for, and that this was because he had given them money?

I was there and I heard at least two women and one older man, none of whom could speak English, being told in Romanian that this was the man who had kept their church going and given them money. These people didn’t know Mairtin because they weren’t there when he visited the church before that and spoke to people. I knew that they were being told that because obviously I speak Romanian so heard it with my own ears.

Are LORAG aware of the dubious activities of those associated with RRCA?

When the first manager of RRCANI resigned, she went to the Board of LORAG, specifically to Gerard Rice and she also went to OFMDFM. No action was taken. Media need to ask OFMDFM or what’s TEO now for a record of any concerns raised with them.

This Romanian lady’s job was then filled by a man called Michael Cunningham who as far as I am aware is a member of Sinn Fein. He came into post a couple of years ago.

Can you explain to us precisely how the exploitation of the Roma community has taken place, and where possible provide us with exact financial figures and names of those involved?

Nicolae previously got about £20,000 per year from TEO funding. His sisters husband Abel also got around £14,000 per year as a receptionist. This was funding they got for their work, so legitimate.

But for many years Nicolae has also been involved in a number of schemes to exploit the Roma community and Romanians coming to Northern Ireland.

It works like this, Romanians come to Northern Ireland and are promised they will be able to get work. Nicolae owns a number of properties which are in the name of other family members, or associates. So when Romanians come to Northern Ireland they often move into houses directly or indirectly owned by Nicolae.

The next stage is then that RRCA get those coming over set up with national insurance numbers etc. For this Romanians have to pay between £300 and £500 cash to Nicolae up-front. They have a number of front companies that are used to generate fake payslips and proof of seeking work and things like that. These are things like an Ironing company, leafletting company, dry cleaning company and a company that provides valet workers. After they are set up with work, they then have to pay £1,000 final payment in cash to Nicolae.

Nicoale for a long time used to use his and his father’s Big Issue company to set Romanians coming over up with work. They would obviously pay the cash fee, Nicolae would then get them set up as self-employed and eligible for benefits. They would also have to pay him a cut of whatever they made in cash from work he got them. If they also lived in one of the properties owned by Nicolae or one of his associates, then they would also have to claim housing benefit and this would be paid directly to the ‘landlord’.

Nicolae was caught with neatly £25,000 in his house by the police. He eventually got this back because he said it was workers wages, but this wasn’t true. He told a newspaper at the time that he employed 100 Romanians and that they each sell around 10 magazines every day. This would mean there were around 7,000 copies of the Big Issue being sold by his people and his company would be raking in over £14,000 every week. That would be over £500,000 a year.

This was all proven as lies because the Big Issue told the newspaper that they would be lucky to sell a couple of hundred copies a month in Northern Ireland, so it’s just a complete joke for Nicolae to suggest he was selling 7,000 copies a week. It was just a way to try and explain the massive amount of cash he was raking in from Romanians. He had a contract also selling the Belfast Telegraph but I believe they sacked him when they became aware of what he was doing.

Can you tell us who specifically fills out the forms for benefits, and again provide relevant figures for how much cash is being handed over?

Nicolae’s sisters are called Bianca, Anca and Sara. They sit in the RRCA reception and spend their time phoning up agencies like HMRC etc and pretending to be the people seeking the benefits. Nearly always there are queries in relation to benefits claims, working tax credit claims and things like this. Workers then take these to Nicolae, pay him £150 for each letter and his sisters sort it out via RRCA.

There was a time around three years ago this was all found out. The first manager of RRCA that I told you about, a really honest woman, found out how Nicolae was taking cash payments so instead she brought in a free advice agency. The manager was overruled by the RRCA board and not long after this she resigned. OFMDFM were told about this at the time, as were other statutory agencies.

You mentioned before that money was then sent back to Romania, how is this done?

RRCA use the church group as a front for their activities. Now let me be clear, the people that attend the church are really good decent people, they aren’t involved in this. But what has been happening is that the collection money is being siphoned off by Nicolae and sent back to Romania to a criminal syndicate. They do it by saying the money is donations, so that is how they basically ‘clean’ it. The money leaves NI to Romania via the church claiming they are donations. I am aware of at least three families who refuse to contribute to the church collection anymore because they know what is going on but are too afraid to speak out because Nicolae threatens them with their family being hurt back home and also what he says are his “friends in the IRA”.

Is there any other documents or schemes Nicolae has been involved in?

Yes, he does a lot of cross-border things, in Monaghan specifically. He gets fake insurance documents and driving licences, again he charges £500 for this. These licences are often fake Irish licences sourced from criminals in Monaghan. A number of Romanians have been caught with these fake documents by the police.

Nicolae also has an interpreter service for driver theory tests. An interpreter is allowed into the test, apparently this can only happen in Northern Ireland. Again he charges a cash fee for this, I am not sure of precisely how much.

Mairtin O’Muilleoir also claimed that PSNI had said there were no investigations into RRCA. You told us that a female member of the Belfast Trust was threatened by Nicolae Nicola and was given an alarm by the PSNI and that she made a statement to this effect. Can you stand over this allegation?

Yes. I have all the details of when the statement was made, how it was dealt with and why an alarm was given to the lady. The PSNI will also know exactly the background to the whole incident and they should provide the whole story and how and why the final outcome of the statement was arrived at. I can also tell you the name of the person dealing with the complaint within the Belfast Trust, it is IDENTITY REDACTED and he works in the Health Improvement team.

Is there anyone else with a public profile that can corroborate what you have told us?

Yes. Declan O’Loan used to be the Romanian consul, he was definitely aware of quite a lot of it, maybe not the criminal elements, but definitely the actions of RRCA. There are also politicians that I know with absolute certainty are aware of the full facts, including threats made. I hope they speak out because these people in public positions of power know this is all 100% true and they should stay silent no longer.



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