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'I'm proud to be in Sandy Row', says DUP MLA renting office from group linked to loyalist killer

By Brett Campbell

A DUP politician who is renting a constituency office from a group managed by a convicted UDA multiple killer has told the Belfast Telegraph he is "proud" to be renting the unit.

The comments from South Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford follow reports that UDA 'kangaroo courts' have been held in the building. Mr Stalford told the Belfast Telegraph that he was not aware of the claims before yesterday.

More: Group linked to UDA rents office to DUP politician Stalford

"As far as I am aware BSCR has never been accused of wrongdoing and no-one has ever put that suggestion to me," he said.

"I am proud to be based in Sandy Row and am hopeful that I will be able to make a positive contribution to the area which has been left behind."

Mr Stalford added: "If anyone has anything they want to say they should come forward with information. I have been renting a unit for about two-and-a-half months.

"In terms of what else is going on in the building, anyone that has something to say should put those accusations forward and provide information."

The office was bought by Belfast South Community Resources (BSCR) from Ulster Unionist politician Chris McGimpsey earlier this year. It was funded by a £757,000 grant from the controversial Social Investment Fund (SIF) which has been branded a "paramilitary slush fund" by some politicians.

With an MLA now renting an office from the community group, more public money will be going to BSCR.

Mr Stalford moved into the premises two weeks ago and both the DUP leader and First Minister Arlene Foster and the party's deputy leader Nigel Dodds attended the opening. BSCR is managed by convicted loyalist killer Garnet Busby and ex-UDA prisoner Trevor Greer is counted among the group's staff.

Yesterday, the Sunday Life also reported that the UDA's south Belfast leader Jackie McDonald is a former development officer with the group and that the terror gang uses offices on the top floor of the building to hold 'kangaroo courts'.

Loyalist sources revealed that anyone who falls foul of the UDA is instructed to attend the BSCR-owned building to learn their punishment.

Last year, a Sandy Row woman said she was summoned to 127-145 Sandy Row, known locally as the 'McMichael Centre', on several occasions to meet members of the proscribed organisation.

Paula Dickson-Graham said a member of the terror group falsely accused her daughter of assault and barred her from entering Sandy Row because she had "disrespected the UDA".

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