Belfast Telegraph

Foster condemns terrorism after photo emerges of former charity head 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

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said she has 'no problem' condemning all forms of terrorism after a photo emerged of the former head of a government-funded group standing beside masked and uniformed UDA terrorists.

It's after the deputy leader of Sinn Fein Michelle O'Neill said she was "waiting to hear all the condemnation from political unionism on Dee Stitt posing with masked UDA figures".

Mrs Foster responded on Twitter saying "no one is above the law and all equally subject to the law".

North Down UDA leader Mr Stitt, who last year denied 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.

He 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 said to the BBC in 2013 that he was in the UDA at the time of loyalist flag protests that year.

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In an interview for a Radio Ulster special on the UDA and the flag protests, he said: “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.”

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

The BBC reporter asked him 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.

He posed for pictures alongside then First Minister Arlene Foster after the organisation received nearly £2m of government funding in 2016. Mr Stitt left Charter NI in recent months.

 

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