Victims' families want minister Stephen Farry sacked over murderer Billy Hutchinson's new post
The families of victims of the UVF want Stormont Employment Minister Stephen Farry sacked over a decision to appoint convicted double killer and PUP/UVF spokesman Billy Hutchinson to a top education post.
The Sunday World can reveal that the PUP leader has been appointed a Governor of the Northern Regional College (NRC).
That’s the further education conglomerate responsible for six colleges stretching from Ballymoney in north Antrim through Ballymena, over to Magherafelt, and down to Newtownabbey.
The announcement of the new Board to oversee the NRC was made just days ago by Alliance Assemblyman and Department for Education and Learning (DEL) Minister Dr Farry.
Billy Hutchinson was one of a number of new Governors named on the Board, even though he is a Belfast City Councillor, and the NRC’s remit only stretches as far south as Newtownabbey and doesn’t cover the city.
However, the appointment has sparked outrage among the families of the victims of the UVF.
A spokesman for them, and other families of all terror gang victims, Raymond McCord, whose own son Raymond Jnr was brutally murdered by the UVF’s Mount Vernon mob, last night called for Minister Farry to resign – or be sacked.
Said Mr McCord: “Once again, the last thing the policy makers at Stormont take into consideration are the victims and their families.
“This man just appointed to a Board which oversees the education of young people is a convicted double killer.
“Just look at his record on condemning terrorism and violence committed by paramilitaries, particularly the UVF.
“What kind of message is this going to send out to the young people who attend these colleges under the wing of the Northern Regional College?”
He said the Hutchinson education Board appointment has created a ‘mood of despair’ among the families of terror organisation victims.
He added: “Right across the board, these people, who have just discovered this, are totally disgusted.”
And Raymond McCord insisted: “If a Minister can appoint a man like this, he should resign – or be sacked.
“After all, he’s the man in charge. And also, as an Alliance party politician, he should be more aware than most about the violence, intimidation and death threats wreaked upon his party colleagues and their premises by the UVF during the flags protest .”
The Sunday World tried to contact Minister Farry on Friday.
We were told by the Alliance press office that the appointments to the NRC Board were a matter for the Department.
We said we would still like to talk to the Minister.
What we got was a statement from a DEL spokesperson who said: “This was a competition regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland and in accordance with the Code of Practice for Ministerial Public Appointments in Northern Ireland.
“All public appointments are made on merit, through a fair, consistent and rigorous process exclusively based around set criteria.
“The Minister is committed to upholding the highest standards in this regard.
“This includes acting impartially and the avoidance of discrimination on any ground.”
We also contacted the Northern Regional College at their Ballymena HQ.
They reacted with a statement from the Chair of their Board of Governors, Carmel McKinney, welcoming the new Governors.
It also confirmed that Minister Farry made the appointments.
It reads: “The Minister...has appointed five new Governors to the College.
“They join our existing Governors and will use their collective skills and experience across a diverse range of professions to provide the guidance and scrutiny necessary to ensure the College fulfils its future ambitions.
“I am delighted to welcome them.”
PUP policy is not to talk to the Sunday World because of our continued coverage of the UVF.
But it should be pointed out that Billy Hutchinson is a Town Planning graduate who currently works as a community development officer based in Mount Vernon in Belfast.
He is also a former lay member of the education and training inspectorate within the Department of Education.
He has also served on an education and library board for a number of years.
Also, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, a self-confessed second OC of the Derry brigade of the IRA, at one stage was Education Minister at Stormont, before becoming Deputy First Minister there.