Edwin Poots slammed for appointment of Loyalist Communities Council’s David Campbell to agribusiness
Last night, EDWIN Poots’ appointment of Loyalist paramilitary spokesman David Campbell to the board of directors of a prestigious agricultural research organization was called “puzzling”.
The chairman of the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) is one of 11 new appointments to the board of directors of the Agrifood & Biosciences Institute (Afbi) in Belfast.
The minister’s controversial move comes at a time when the executive office has failed for months to approve a new watchdog leader for public appointments.
Mr Campbell, former chairman of the Ulster Unionist Party, has been a vocal opponent of the Northern Ireland protocol and in recent months has been particularly critical of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.
In June, he issued a statement on behalf of the LCC – which represents the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando – saying Irish ministers and officials were “not welcome in Northern Ireland”.
Speaking at the Progressive Unionist Party’s annual conference in October, Campbell also insisted that the Irish Sea border resulting from the protocol “must disappear”.
An LCC representative told a Westminster committee earlier this year that loyalist violence against protocol was not “off the table”.
DUP adviser Tim McClelland, who is also among those appointed yesterday by Mr Poots, is the only one to say he has taken up political activity, under guidelines for such positions.
When applying for the Afbi position, which pays £ 412 for each day worked, applicants must also declare if there is a conflict of interest that could discredit the organization.
Mr. Campbell, who declined to be interviewed by Irish news on the grounds that he “cannot speak without permission”, is a Co Antrim-based dairy farmer who obtained a CBE in 2005.
The former special advisor to David Trimble has become known to the public in recent years by speaking alongside leading worshipers under the LCC banner.
SDLP MP Patsy McGlone said the appointment was “confusing”.
The Mid-Ulster representative said he was “incredulous” that Mr. Campbell had not declared any political activity.
“This year this man has led the vitriolic angry at Irish government ministers and blamed them for a deal the UK government signed on to. So to suggest that it is not political activity is just plain stupid,” did he declare.
He said he plans to increase the appointment to Stormont’s agriculture committee next week.
There was no comment from Mr. Campbell or from Mr. Poots’ department.