Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Tempers flare during Stephen Nolan debate on paramilitary funding

Tempers flared during a debate on funding for groups linked to paramilitary groups on the Stephen Nolan BBC One show.

The late night BBC one debate show posed the question if it was right for public money to go indirectly toward to those who have been involved in paramilitary activity.

It comes after £1.7million of government money was awarded to Charter NI. It's chief executive is convicted UDA gunman Dee Stitt.

Launching the programme, First Minister Arlene Foster stated that it would improve employability in east Belfast.

“It is bringing about social change in parts of Northern Ireland that are suffering from real disadvantage," she said.

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Tracey Coulter - who has in the past been a victim of the UDA - was a guest on the Nolan show panel.

She said paramilitaries were being "rewarded" and they were "untouchable".

"It is proven they are still involved in crime, it is proven they are thugs," she said.

"Is giving them money going to make them stop?

"There is no sugar-coating this. They don't deserve anymore money. They have had enough - they have had millions."

One woman in the audience argued it was not just loyalists but those in the republican community that struggled to move on from their past.

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She said: "Loyalist communities have been left behind and when any money goes into it, you get this.

"There are those in the loyalist community working really hard, really hard, and you get all this.

"You have to remember what's going into the nationalist community and they have been getting it for years.

"And the first time a load of money goes into a loyalist area you get yap, yap, yap or they are doing this or they are doing that.

"Catch yourself on.

"They haven't moved away."

When Mrs Coulter asked if the woman had ever been a victim of loyalist violence, the women responded: "Loyalists deserve to have a life.

Responding Mrs Coulter said: "Loyalists deserve to have a life," the woman said.

"So do my kids," said Tracey, "They [paramilitaries] should stop torturing people.

"They don't deserved to be paid and rewarded for it."

The two ended up shouting over each other and at one stage Stephen Nolan himself struggled to speak over the women and calm them down.

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