UDA-linked group ‘useful for community’ claims report

A UDA flag in Limavady town centre.

A UDA flag in Limavady town centre.

An east Belfast community restorative justice group with links to the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) has been told it can apply for Government approval.

The Resolve scheme was set up in 2014 with the aims of supporting people who were under paramilitary threat, mediating in neighbourhood disputes and at interfaces, and tackling anti-social behaviour.

It is thought to be the first group of its kind to emerge that is linked to the UDA.

In order to access public funding, schemes such as Resolve must first be formally assessed by the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJINI).

Once this process is complete, the schemes can then apply for full Government accreditation.

Inspectors found Resolve was making “a useful contribution in a politically complex and fragmented local community”.

They also determined that, with a budget of just £37,000 a year, Resolve was “delivering value for a very small amount of money”.

The group’s sole source of income is provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

CJINI inspectors said they also obtained evidence that human rights, the rights of the child, and UN principles on restorative justice were being observed.

Users of the service provided “highly complimentary feedback”, according to inspectors.

“They (users) reported prompt and effective resolutions that would not have been achieved with statutory agencies or other community groups.

“A wide range of people testified positively about Resolve. They were providing the police with all the details they required and reacting correctly if offences came to light.

“This work was valued by local police and community leaders, especially as it was attempting to promote the rule of law within a volatile political constituency.”