Belfast Telegraph

UDA begs voters to back DUP in Northern Ireland Assembly vote

By Ali Gordon

A UDA faction has publicly backed the DUP ahead of the Assembly election on Thursday.

An editorial in the latest edition of Loyalist Magazine — linked to the South Belfast UDA — calls on local people to come out and vote for Arlene Foster’s party, and hails the controversial Social Investment Fund (SIF).

Earlier this month, Lisburn and South Belfast boss Jackie McDonald called a series of meetings in which he ordered his members to back the DUP.

“It may be the case you don’t see some politicians from one election to the next, but not all should be measured with the same yardstick,” said the Loyalist Magazine’s editorial.

“In the Lisburn area, local politicians, and in particular the DUP, have worked closely with the community and together massive change for the betterment of working class loyalist people has been achieved.

“People like (the DUP’s) Paul Porter, Edwin Poots, Jonathan Craig, Paul Givan and Jeffrey Donaldson have worked side-by-side with the loyalist community, (and while) much has been achieved, much more needs done, but one thing’s for sure loyalists need friends who work for the community and these guys have proven to be real friends in so many ways to working class loyalists.

“Christopher Stalford is also working well with communities in Sandy Row, Taughmonagh and Belvoir, really engaging with local people.

“He is very much aware of the lack of facilities and infrastructure in his ward and is deserving of the opportunity to carry on his good work. Emma Pengelly was also a valuable member of the DUP before and since the last election.”

UDA leaders decided to back the DUP after the party supported the allocation of £5m of public funds to projects linked to the terror gang through the controversial SIF.

As Sunday Life first revealed last year, these schemes include SIF spending £800,000 on buying a Sandy Row office block, in which veteran loyalist Jackie McDonald (below) used to conduct UDA business, and which is run by Belfast South Community Resources (BSCR) who he used to work for.

Charter NI — which counts east Belfast UDA figures Dee Stitt, Jimmy Birch, and Sam ‘Chalky’ White as senior members — was also nominated to manage £1.7m of public money.

“Through SIF funding another million pounds of investment in a youth centre and extension to Laganview is under way,” the Loyalist Magazine added.

The editorial claims that “most parties tell you (SIF) is a waste of money”, before praising it for helping working class loyalist areas in south Belfast.

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