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Dee Stitt takes parting pot shot at DUP's Foster as he stands down

By Lauren Harte

Prominent loyalist Dee Stitt accused DUP leader Arlene Foster of "ruining his street cred" as he stood down from his £35,000 per year role as head of charity Charter NI.

Two years ago there was outrage after the then First Minister posed alongside Mr Stitt who has in the past been linked to the UDA.

Mr Stitt told BBC News NI last night that he would "absolutely not" pose for a photograph with Mrs Foster if asked to do so again, adding that she "wouldn't be at the top of my Christmas card list".

"Did she ruin my street cred? Of course she did," he said.

"Would I do it if I could go back again? Hindsight is a wonderful thing"

While Mr Stitt is standing down from his role as the head of the organisation, he will take up a role as a project manager with the charity, working with the Open Doors ex-prisoner project.

A statement issued by Charter NI read: "David has asked that we accept his resignation of CEO duties within Charter NI (tendered on August 28).

"This has been accepted by the board at a meeting held on Friday August 31. The board would like to thank David for his commitment and dedication to Charter NI especially through difficult times. Negative media attention has been a great strain on David and his family and we offer them our continued support."

Mr Stitt added: "The reality is that I'm putting my family first from now on, as all the negative media attention the CEO role brought has affected my wife and our young daughter. It's simple as my past is constantly affecting my future and I have no control over that and I never will."

Writing on his Twitter account later, the UDA leader wrote: "Life goes on... Sad but necessary."

In the wake of Mr Stitt's departure, Charter NI has said it will undergo a restructuring of its current staff and management.

Last week the Charity Commission ruled Mr Stitt was unfit to serve as the trustee of Kilcooley Community Forum, a group he has been a leading member of and which was recently granted charitable status.

His application to join its trustee board was rejected over concerns around his past criminality and how his home was targeted in a recent police drugs raid.

The Belfast Telegraph contacted the DUP for a response to Mr Stitt's remarks but had not received a response at time of going to press.

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