Belfast Telegraph

'No apology' from DUP's Stalford for renting office from UDA-linked group

'Slur to link group to paramilitaries,' says Christopher Stalford

By Jonathan Bell

South Belfast MLA Christopher has said he makes no apology for renting an office said to be linked to the UDA.

In the BBC's Spotlight programme on the Social Investment Fund, one Sandy Row resident spoke to the programme anonymously about the bonfire which was placed close to his apartment block.

He asked why unionist representative for South Belfast rented his office on the Sandy Row from Belfast South Community Resources (BSCR), which has been linked to the UDA.

Mr Stalford rejected the implication describing it as a "slur" to claim the group was linked to paramilitaries.

"If there is a direct link, I can not say," the resident told the BBC. "But what I can say is that the local unionist representive could have picked anywhere in south Belfast for a constituency office and didn't but picked one owned by a group with strong links to the UDA."

In a Facebook post, Mr Stalford rejected the implications made in the programme, saying he was proud of the work of BSCR.

He said: "I wanted to rent the office I am in now when it was not the property of BSCR but in fact belonged to a UUP councillor.

"The fact that my landlord would have been from another political party would not have stopped me from going to that office in Sandy Row.

He added: "I put on the record in the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2016 that my office was rented from BSCR and I am proud of the work the group does: they are a legitimate and peaceful group and it is a slur on the people who work there to claim they are a paramilitary aligned group.

"I want to work for everyone in South Belfast and I will never, ever turn my back on the community I come from at the behest of people who want to hold working-class Unionists back. You may not like it but I am what I am: a working-class Unionist and I make no apology to anyone for it."

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