Clonard Monastery group ‘did not back letter praising IRA man’

Sixty-three groups signed the letter praising Gerard 'Jock' Davison
Sixty-three groups signed the letter praising Gerard 'Jock' Davison

The leadership of a youth centre at a Catholic monastery has distanced itself from a letter praising an IRA leader, which had been sent out with its name attached.

Clonard Monastery Youth Centre in west Belfast was one of 63 groups whose names appeared on a statement in the Irish News on Saturday, hailing the “courageous” paramilitary commander Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison, who was shot dead last Tuesday.

The statement claimed it was trying to counter-balance the “ugly headline-grabbing narrative” after the death of Mr Davison.

While the centre sits within the grounds of the monastery off the Falls Road, it has its own management structure.

Asked why it was putting its name to a statement of support for an IRA commander, the centre said: “The signatory was acting in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the management of the youth centre.

“The Clonard monastery youth centre is a voluntary youth centre governed by a management committee.”

The News Letter has also learned that, of the 63 groups which put their names to the statement, 19 receive funding from Belfast City Council.

In addition to council funding, three of the groups – Corpus Christi Services, Springhill Community House, and Relatives for Justice – also receive money from the Victims and Survivors Service.

The police said it had received no complaints about the full-page statement in the Irish News.

The funeral for Mr Davison, a senior republican figure in the Markets areaof Belfast, was held on Saturday.