Belfast Telegraph

Former charity boss Dee Stitt poses with UDA men

Dee Stitt (centre) addresses supporters at the mural for murdered UDA man Tommy Herron
Dee Stitt (centre) addresses supporters at the mural for murdered UDA man Tommy Herron

By Christopher Woodhouse

The former head of a government-funded group happily posed beside masked and uniformed UDA terrorists on Friday night.

North Down UDA leader Dee Stitt, who last year laughably tried to deny being a paramilitary, addressed supporters at the unveiling of a mural in Bangor to murdered brigadier Tommy Herron who was shot dead during an internal dispute in 1973.

Stitt himself posted the picture on Twitter with the caption: “Brig. Tommy Herron mural officially in Kilcooley this evening by his sister Jean and niece Sophia.

“What a proud day. Our Unionist history will never be rewritten or taken from us. Quis Separabit.”

The convicted armed robber had boasted to the BBC in 2013 that he was in the UDA at the time of loyalist flag protests that year.

In an interview for a Radio Ulster special on the UDA and the flag protests, the flashy crime boss was candid: “Yes, I’ve been to a protest myself in north Down and Bangor. Three protests I’ve been at as a UDA individual and as a member of the community.”

Stitt also told Radio Ulster: “I’m Dee Stitt, I would represent and speak on behalf of the UDA in north Down.”

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The BBC reporter asked Stitt why the UDA still existed.

“Because we’re part of the community, we live in the community. Where are we going to go?” he said. “We live here, we live in stinky street with everybody else. Where we going to go? Go to the moon on a rocket — go away UDA? We actually live here, we’re from here, we’re having kids here, we work here, where we going to go?”

But he tried to distance himself from the paramilitary group when he became chief executive of the Charter NI charity and posed for pictures alongside then First Minister Arlene Foster after the organisation received nearly £2m of government funding in 2016.

Since leaving Charter NI in recent months, he is now shamelessly promoting his connections to the UDA, the organisation whose North Down brigade he runs.

However, he is putting on a brave face in the midst of a power struggle, with east Belfast brigadier Jimmy ‘Millions’ Birch under pressure to step down.

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