DUP demand Quaker trust answer for ‘terrorist ties’

Gavin Robinson, the Democratic Unionist MP for Belfast East, has called on the Charity Commission to conduct a full investigation into a charitable trust over a string of donations to an organisation alleged to have ties to a republic terrorist group.

According to the Times, since 2012 the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust has given over £385,000 to Conflict Resolution Services Ireland, a senior trustee of which “described the terrorist assassination of a Conservative MP as a ‘legitimate exercise'”.

CRSI apparently acts as: “a mediator for people under threat of punishment attacks from Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH), a paramilitary organisation that rejected the peace process and carried out numerous gun and bomb attacks between 2008 and last year”, and in 2015 it’s offices were raided by counter-terrorism police.

This is in fact the second time the same trust has donated to a republican group whose offices have been so raided. Last month, the Times reported that it had given £275,000 to Teach na Failte, “whose offices were raided this year by police investigating sex trafficking and “paramilitary-style attacks””.

All of this comes in the same week that Dr Cillian McGrattan warned that the UK is in danger of adopting a “pro-terrorist, anti-state” view of the Troubles, and that the News Letter reported that Sinn Fein raised more funds than the DUP and Ulster Unionists put together last year. The DUP have been criticised by a former staffer for failing to crack down on Sinn Fein’s big, dark-money donations from America.

Corbyn tries to rally support with Scottish tour

The Labour leader embarked on a four-day tour of Scotland this week in a bid to bolster his party’s faltering efforts to rebuild support north of the border, the Guardian reports.

During the visit he told reporters that he was “confident” that Labour were regaining ground – and then indulged the usual habit of a politician with no new thinking to offer and tried to find new powers to give away to Holyrood.

Writing in this week’s Daily Telegraph, Tom Harris – a Labour MP for Glasgow until 2015 – sets out why his party are struggling to win so much as air time, let alone votes, in a political arena dominated by the battle between Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson.

In other Corbyn news, this week it emerged that his links to republican terrorist groups have been examined by the police.

Clark in Dublin to secure Ulster electricity

The Business Secretary has held urgent talks with officials in Dublin to secure an emergency agreement which will secure Northern Ireland’s electricity supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to the Times.

Apparently Downing Street wants to avoid publishing it’s worst-case plans for such a scenario, which involve importing thousands of generators to keep the province going if cross-border energy supplies are disrupted.

Since 2007 there has been a single wholesale market in electricity across the island of Ireland – but this is currently underpinned by European Union law. If the Government wants to give weight to its strong words about the integrity of the Union, it would do well to consider how Ulster could be better integrated into the UK’s infrastructure systems in the medium-to-long term.

In other Irish news, Alrene Foster has declined to meet Pope Francis when he visits Dublin – a decision which has been criticised in the Belfast Telegraph by a Catholic UUP councillor.

SNP urged to abandon independence drive as scale of Scottish deficit revealed

The Scottish Government has come under renewed pressure to call off any push for a new independence referendum after new figures showed that Scotland’s deficit was four times the size of the UK’s.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the official figures reveal “a record “Union dividend” of nearly  £1,900 for every man, woman and child in Scotland.” However, Sturgeon has claimed that they merely show that Scotland is “on the right trajectory”.

Elsewhere in Holyrood, John Swinney has had a second week of poor headlines over the Nationalists’ education record. He has been forced to deny that there is a “crisis in morale” amongst teachers, the Scotsman reports, and play down the prospect of a strike.

The education minister has also been accused of hypocrisy after writing to the finance minister, Derek McKay, to help a private school in his constituency affected by the SNP’s own policy of abolishing business rates reductions for such schools.