DUP man's thanks to ex-UVF hitman and jailed Orangeman for election support
A DUP councillor has thanked a former UVF hitman and a jailed Orangeman for signing his nomination papers for the forthcoming local government elections.
Dale Pankhurst also thanked everyone who has supported him in the run up to the election.
He has also been joined on the campaign trail in Belfast by a convicted drug dealer.
"I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has signed my nomination papers, given support, and encouraged me," the DUP Belfast councillor said on Twitter.
He also claimed there was was a "concerted attempt" to attack and undermine his election campaign from some sections of the media.
"Unfortunately for them they have failed miserably," he added.
Ex-UVF hitman Robert Hayes Spence, known as Bobby Spence, endorsed Mr Pankhurst for next month's poll. Spence has spent time in prison for murder and for various other violent offences in the 1980s. More recently he was convicted for breaching a Parades Commission determination at Twaddell Avenue.
Mr Pankhurst said he was unaware Spence had served time in jail. He also pointed out that a number of convicted criminals were standing and canvassing for Sinn Fein.
"He doesn't eulogise what happened in the way republicans and Sinn Fein do and I am happy for him to sign my nomination papers," he told the Sunday Life.
Mr Pankhurst was also forced to defend shamed Orangeman John Aughey signing his nomination papers despite being jailed for running over a teenage girl in his car after a parade in July 2015 at the Ardoyne shops flashpoint.
Aughey was found guilty of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily injury, assault causing actual bodily harm and assault and jailed for a year.
"John Aughey has been a long-term family friend and neighbour. I thought it nice to ask him to sign my nomination papers," said Mr Pankhurst.
And the DUP defended a convicted drug dealer joining Mr Pankhurst and his running mate Gillian Simpson on the campaign trail in north Belfast.
Mark Officer was sentenced to 20 months in prison in 2015 after cocaine worth nearly £1m was seized when a car was stopped by police in Belfast.
The DUP said he had shown remorse and was wanting to move forward and play a positive role in society.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has signed my nomination papers, given support, and encouraged me. The election is just over two weeks away so we are well on track and nearing the finish line 😁 #Pankhurst1 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧— Cllr Dale Pankhurst (@Dale_Pankhurst) April 15, 2019
Belfast Telegraph Digital