The following statement was issued this afternoon (Sunday 28 August 2022) by JWB Consultancy who represent Mr Gary Murray in his complaints:
We can confirm, as reported in the Newsletter on Saturday 27 August 2022, that a complaint in relation to Feile An Phobail has been lodged with both the Charity Commission and PSNI on behalf of our client Mr Gary Murray.
In 1993 Mr Murray lost his younger sister Leanne, who at 13 years of age was murdered by the IRA in the Shankill bombing terrorist atrocity. In the years since, Mr Murray and his mother Gina have been relentless campaigners for victims of terrorism in Northern Ireland.
The complaint to the Charity Commission comes after JWB Consultancy received a letter in 2019 in response to a complaint about the promotion of IRA terrorism by the Feile, which stated that the Commission was “content with responses received” from trustees, but would not hesitate to take future action if necessary. The apparent assurances from trustees were plainly bogus, given that after a two-year gap due to Covid, that as soon as Feile returned the promotion of terrorism again took centre stage (literally).
The obvious question now arises as to what action will be taken given the engagement in 2019 was plainly insufficient, and the Charity Commission failed to take appropriately robust actions to protect the Charity sector.
In hosting the Wolfetones and Shebeen, Feile knowingly used charity resources (including promotional material/branding, volunteers, equipment and social media accounts) for the promotion of terrorism. This is not merely a non-charitable purpose, but is in fact antithetical to charity purposes (particularly that set out in section 2 (2) (h) of the Charities Act (NI) 2008).
It is a basic proposition that charity resources can not be used for non-charitable purposes. If, as suggested in some media, the Feile have in fact devised an arrangement whereby the monies are filtered through a different avenue then this does not offer a defence, but in fact makes it worse. If Charity resources are being used (and as pointed out, resources have a wider meaning than merely monies) in furtherance of a commercial activity (inclusive of promoting terrorism) then there may well be financial offences associated with this.
We have also drawn the Charity Commission’s attention to what seems to be ongoing illegality on the part of the Commission. The investigation of initial complaints is carried out by staff.
The investigation of charities is a function of the commission (see section 8 (2) (3) of the Charities Act 2008). As has been definitively set out by McCloskey LJ in McKee, Hughes and AG for NI  NICA 13 the functions of the Commission can not lawfully be discharged by staff.
In 2022 via the Charities Act (NI) 2022 a new Section 9A was inserted into the 2008 Act which gives the Commission power to delegate their functions to staff. However, no such delegation has taken place, therefore as it stands the Commission staff should not by law be carrying out the investigative steps that they are. This work should be done by Commissioners.
There may well be a public policy argument for saying that due to workload and resources this may cause difficulties. That may be so, but that can not have the effect of altering that which is plainly required by law. Indeed, a similar argument was tried by the Commission in the Court of Appeal. It was dismissed in its entirety in McKee, Hughes and AG for NI (see paragraph 44).
We hope the Commission (acting as required by law through the Commissioners rather than staff) will take robust and urgent steps to protect the integrity of the Charity sector.
In addition, a complaint has been made to the PSNI asking them to investigate whether any criminal offences may have been committed at the Wolfetones/Sheeben Feile concert, with specific reference to section 1 (3) (a) of the Terrorism Act 2006.
The victims of the IRA have for too long been expected to sit back and permit statutory agencies, civic society and the political process to legitimise the terrorist actions of the republican movement. This will no longer be permitted, and other IRA victims are welcome to join in this complaint.
The victims of the IRA have for too long been expected to sit back and permit statutory agencies, civic society and the political process to legitimise the terrorist actions of the republican movement. This will not longer be permitted, and other IRA victims are welcome to join in this complaint.
The full complaint can be downloaded: Submission Mr Gary Murray CCNI 21 August 22