Belfast Telegraph

UDA chief Dee Stitt handed final written warning by Charter NI board over homeland security comments

UDA boss Dee Stitt has been handed a final written warning by the Charter NI board over his homeland security comments to The Guardian newspaper, it has been reported.

The BBC Stephen Nolan Show reported the outcome of the internal review process by the former prisoners' charity into Stitt's comments.

Loyalist Stitt has faced increasing pressure to step down after his organisation was awarded £1.7m in public funding from the Social Investment Fund and following an interview with The Guardian in which he described flute band the North Down Defenders as "homeland security" protecting his territory "from anybody".

Charter NI declined to comment on the report saying it was an internal matter.

Yesterday, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness called on Stitt to consider quitting the organisation.

More: McGuinness: UDA boss Stitt should consider quitting role in Charter NI

Charter NI has said it had carried out a review of Stitt's comments to The Guardian, which had concluded.

A statement said: "Our chief executive recognised his error of judgment and apologised immediately for the content of the interview. We have now completed an internal review process in line with our company procedures and best employment practice."

Charter NI was initially set up to help UDA ex-prisoners, but it has expanded rapidly in recent years with millions of pounds in Government funding.

Stitt's UDA gang in north Down has been linked to drug dealing, racketeering and intimidation.

The notorious loyalist served a five year prison term for an attempted UDA armed robbery in the 1990s.

In 2008, Stitt was back before the courts charged with kidnapping a man in Bangor and threatening to kill him after he was discovered in the boot of a car. However, the case against him and two co-accused was later dropped.

In a 2013 radio interview he confessed to being a UDA member from the age of 15.

Prior to the Guardian interview, in a statement he told the Nolan show his paramilitary life which he had been a part of, was in his past.

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