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UDA boss Dee Stitt should reconsider his position as Charter NI chief: Martin McGuinness

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has called for Charter NI chief executive and UDA boss Dee Stitt to reconsider his position.

It comes as it emerged that self-confessed UDA boss returned to his desk at the ex-prisoners’ charity yesterday.

The loyalist had faced 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”.

More: UDA boss Dee Stitt returns to work with Charter NI as pressure mounts for him to step down

He then reportedly threatened to withdraw an offer to resign after the Belfast Telegraph revealed the face-saving deal - accusing internal opponents of leaking the details in a “dirty-tricks” campaign to undermine him.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said Stitt should reconsider his position in light of the "reputational damage being done to worthwhile Social Investment projects".

He said: "It is clear that the controversy surrounding Mr Stitt is presenting real difficulties to the reputation and efforts of Charter NI.

"That is unfortunate given the good work which Charter NI and indeed the wider Social Investment Fund is involved in.

"In the interests of both, I believe Mr Stitt should now consider stepping aside."

Charter NI said it did not wish to comment on the Sinn Fein MLA's comments.

It said it had carried out a review of Stitt's comments to the Guardian, saying it had concluded. It did not disclose details of that investigation.

It said: “Following publication by the Guardian on-line of an extract of an interview given by our chief executive the board of Charter NI confirmed our view of the unacceptability of the statement made and the language used.

“Our chief executive recognised his error of judgement 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 also said it was “deeply concerned at the damaging impact” of the media attention on the organisation and paid tribute to its staff for what it described as a “testing period”.

“We take our governance responsibilities extremely seriously ensuring all aspects of this organisation are beyond reproach, as has been evidenced by all statutory monitoring, evaluation and vouching, and independent professional financial auditing,” it added.

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