EXCLUSIVE: Shooting for Funding- How republican front groups are being rewarded for punishment shootings

Unionist Voice has investigated a ‘shooting for funding’ cycle that has seen vast amounts of public money poured into dissident republican front groups in a vain attempt to financially induce them to stop shooting people. In the past 10 years dissident republicans have been responsible for 91% of punishment shootings, with the majority carried out in North/West Belfast and Londonderry.

This perverse ‘shooting for funding’ policy, which came into being following the dissident republican murders of two British soldiers in 2009, has encouraged a massive increase in dissident republican shootings. These increased shootings runs in parallel with escalating funding for dissident republican ‘restorative justice’ schemes, which are operating without protocols or government accreditation.

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A quick glance at the PSNI statistics shows that from 2007-2009 dissident republican groups shot 23 people. Statistics show that 18 of these shootings came within the 2008-2009 reporting year, which marked a sharp increase from only 5 shootings in 2007-2008.

During this period there was little statutory engagement with dissident republican groups as they were viewed primarily as a security problem which could be contained , however in 2009 dissident terrorists murdered two British soldiers at Masserene barracks. This, absurdly, marked the beginning of statutory engagement with dissident front groups.

For their part dissident groups recognised the potential to access vast amounts of public money, and so began to set up community and restorative justice type groups in their heartlands of North/West Belfast and Londonderry.

With the realisation of the potential for financial rewards to be lavished upon them by private funders and statutory agencies, to try and buy ‘good behaviour’, dissident groups quickly began to accelerate their punishment shootings.

In 2009-2010 dissident republicans shot 45 people and maintained this high level of activity in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, when they shot 33 people in each financial year. The vast majority of these punishment shootings took place in the Belfast and Londonderry areas, where incidentally dissident republicans were beginning to set up community front groups.

In 2011 a dissident ‘restorative justice’ group formalised its existence by registering with companies house and as a charity. This group is Conflict Resolution Services Ireland. They have recently been in the news following calls by Doug Beattie MC MLA for their funding to be investigated following the conviction of an employee, Fernando Murphy, for serious domestic abuse and stalking of his ex partner.

The formalising of this group saw them lavished with £245,654 between their inception in 2011 and the end of the financial year in 2013. In these two years shootings and threats remained at a high level, justifying the ‘need’ for funding, however in year three 2013-14 there was a sharp decrease in dissident shootings- particularly in North/West Belfast, with the reporting year giving a total of only 19 shootings.

The decrease in year three coincided with statutory agencies, in the third year of a funding cycle, looking for some visible sign of a decrease in punishment attacks to demonstrate the groups work was having a positive effect.

In the 2014-2015 reporting year, in an attempt to emulate the first successful cycle of ‘shooting for funding’, dissident republican shootings rose sharply again, with 30 being recorded.

This was rewarded by a promise of funding, which is detailed at page 5 of CRSI’s accounts for 2015-16. It states “with funding obtained for two years ahead from the International Fund for Ireland and Joseph Rowntree charitable trust CRSI are in a more stable position…”

The confidence that funding had already been secured for the forthcoming 2016-17 and 2017-18 financial years saw a decrease in dissident shootings in 2015-2016, with only 13 carried out. This also coincided with the arrest of CRSI employee Carl Reilly on directing terrorism charges.

However in the 2016-17 reporting year, as we moved towards the final years of the promised financial assistance for groups such as CRSI, we once again saw an increase in republican shootings. Of the 25 republican shootings recorded, over 60% were carried out in the Belfast area with the remainder focused in Londonderry, where prominent dissident Gary Donnelly is trying to extract funding for his own ‘restorative justice’ type scheme.

Republican shootings have remained high in 2017, with dissident groupings also adopting a new tactic of boosting their ‘threat verification’ statistics by drawing up drug dealer lists ordering those named to come forward.

In June 2017 a CRSI employee and a prominent dissident republican used CRSI offices to draw up a ‘Communities Against Drugs’ leaflet which named 48 people. The leaflets warned that those named “MUST bring themselves forward.” The implication from the leaflet was clear; as the only dissident linked ‘conflict resolution’ group, those named must come forward to CRSI to find out what punishment dissident republicans planned to dish out to them. This provided the added benefit of providing much needed statistics boosting CRSI’s ‘threat verification’ and ‘conflict resolution’ figures, which are provided to funders.

One individual, Emanuel Murphy, was ordered out of Ardoyne by one of the aforementioned CRSI linked individuals, and was shot on 25 June 2017 in front of his children. The PSNI have not arrested the individual behind the threat to Emanuel Murphy- despite his identity being widely known- nor have they sought to seize computers on which the drug dealer list was drawn up.

The statistics outlined by Unionist Voice in this piece highlight the bizarre nature of public, and private, monies being poured into an organisation inextricably linked to armed dissident republicans. There is also a clear pattern of ‘shooting for funding’, whereby the more people shot by dissidents the more funding is poured into their front groups to stop the shooting. It is legalised extortion and it is time that the mainstream media focused on dissident republican groups and explored the vast amounts of public money they are receiving, whilst they continue to terrorise their own communities.

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