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Government demands answers after one of Britain's biggest charities gives £275,000 to Irish republican group linked to banned terrorist organisation

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 28/07/2018 Lara Keay
Members of an INLA (Irish National Liberation Army ) colour party looks on during the official unveiling of a statue at the INLA burial plot in Londonderry city cemetery. © getty Members of an INLA (Irish National Liberation Army ) colour party looks on during the official unveiling of a statue at the INLA burial plot in Londonderry city cemetery.

One of Britain's biggest charities is being probed after giving £275,000 to an Irish republican group linked to a banned terrorist organisation.

The Charity Commission is demanding the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust 'explain and justify' giving the funding to Teach na Failte, which was founded by the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the political wing of the Irish National Liberation Army.

The INLA was formed in 1974 during The Troubles and has been involved in bombings and shootings in Northern Ireland and London, including the killing of shadow Northern Ireland secretary Airey Neave in Westminster in 1979.

a car parked on the side of a building: The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust is being probed over £275,000 they gave to a group linked to the Irish National Liberation Army, linked to terror attacks during the Troubles. Pictured: The remains of the car where shadow Northern Ireland secretary Airey Neave was killed in 1979 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust is being probed over £275,000 they gave to a group linked to the Irish National Liberation Army, linked to terror attacks during the Troubles. Pictured: The remains of the car where shadow Northern Ireland secretary Airey Neave was killed in 1979

According to The Times, the Rowntree Trust has been giving money to Teach na Failte since 2014 and handed over a grant of £125,000 last year.

It also shares its offices with the IRSP in Belfast, which were searched in April by the paramilitary crime force unit, an elite unit in the Northern Ireland police force.

Eight arrests were made in the raids, which were carried out by more than 200 officers.

a screenshot of a cell phone: The Rowntree trust was set up in 1904 by York-based philanthropist and confectionary maker Joseph Rowntree to deal with 'weakness and evil in the community' © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The Rowntree trust was set up in 1904 by York-based philanthropist and confectionary maker Joseph Rowntree to deal with 'weakness and evil in the community'

Of those arrested, Brian Gillan, 60, was charged with extortion and running a brothel alongside two Romanian citizens.

A source close to the Charity Commission told the newspaper the grants were 'astonishing and absolutely appalling'.

Teach na Failte said it supported INLA former prisoners and their families and claimed the raids on the officers were a 'MI5 publicity stunt'.

A Rowntree trustee told the paper the money was supposed to 'build pathways to peace'.

a group of people in military uniforms: The Charity Commission is demanding the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust 'explain and justify' giving the funding to Teach na Failte, which was founded by the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the political wing of the Irish National Liberation Army (2006 march pictured) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The Charity Commission is demanding the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust 'explain and justify' giving the funding to Teach na Failte, which was founded by the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the political wing of the Irish National Liberation Army (2006 march pictured)

Claire Hanna, an SDLP member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, told The Times that the Rowntree charity's cash awards to Teach na Failte 'grossly undermine' public confidence.

She added: 'When we keep handing out cash on the basis of their paramilitary affiliation, they have no incentive to change. Cases like this are sickening when I think of decent organisations doing meaningful work but with little or no funding.'

The Rowntree trust was set up in 1904 by York-based philanthropist and confectionary maker Joseph Rowntree to deal with 'weakness and evil in the community'.

Last night it said it 'rejected all violence' and supports 'equality, rights and reconciliation', and joined up with Teach na Failte because it was 'committed to non violence'. 

The INLA was formed in 1974 during The Troubles and has been involved in bombings and shootings in Northern Ireland and London, including the killing of shadow Northern Ireland secretary Airey Neave in 1979 (crime scene on House of Commons car park ramp pictured) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The INLA was formed in 1974 during The Troubles and has been involved in bombings and shootings in Northern Ireland and London, including the killing of shadow Northern Ireland secretary Airey Neave in 1979 (crime scene on House of Commons car park ramp pictured) It was also caught up in controversy in 2015, when it was urged by the Charity Commission to stop funding 'Cage', a charity that supports Muslims suspected of terror offences. 

It had to stop funding after a senior figure in the orginsation praised Islamic State butcher Mohammed Emwazi, otherwise known as 'Jihadi John'.

Despite the controversy, the charity received the support of celebrities Vanessa Redgrave, Joanna Lumley and Dame Janet Suzman.

The actresses said the trust has made 'vital contributions' to the Northern Ireland peace process and the transition to democracy in South Africa. 

They wrote that charities such as the trust frequently work in 'complex and difficult environments' to promote peace, justice and equality. 

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