UDA boss ‘wouldn’t rule out return to violence’ by loyalists
UDA boss Dee Stitt has claimed he was used as a “scapegoat” to take attention away from the RHI scandal and accused the DUP of being “useless”.
Bangor-based Stitt also said he “wouldn’t rule out a return to violence” by loyalists in an interview for a new book on Northern Protestants by author Susan McKay.
Ms McKay interviewed dozens of people from all round Northern Ireland for her new book but admits globe-trotting Stitt kept her waiting before they met up at Cafe Havana, his Cuban-themed cafe near his Bangor home.
“It took a while to organise a meeting with Dee Stitt. First he was off to Vietnam, then Spain. While I waited he urged me to do my research. ‘Google me’, he said. ‘There’s reams about me in the media. They call me a drug dealer, a murderer, a racketeer. There’s no evidence for any of it’.”
When she finally got to meet him the former armed robber hit out at the media and the DUP over the publicity which led to him quitting as chief executive of the Charter NI, a government-funded body set up to provide training and employment in deprived areas.
Ms McKay noted that prior to his resignation in September 2018, Stitt had been “under pressure over his UDA connections, which he alternatively boasted about and denied”.
“Everything was rosy in the garden for about four years,” Stitt says of his time as Charter NI’s chief executive.
“Then they got stuck in. How could a terrorist be a fit person to handle public funds?
“At the end of it all they were calling for my head. People in the DUP were feeding it.
“I was being used as a scapegoat to take attention from the RHI. What an organisation and they destroyed it,” he told Ms McKay. Stitt, who also told the author of his three trips to Cuba, said his business was now his cafe and a fish and chip shop in Newtownards.
Describing the DUP as useless, he told her: “The UUP ones that came into the DUP ruined it.”
He added: “We’ve got sold out — yet again. I wouldn’t rule out a return to violence because the loyalist community will never accept a united Ireland. Sinn Fein is still the political wing of the IRA. The language coming out of them is totally alien.”
Ms McKay says Stitt clapped his hands and added: “I don’t know. I haven’t a crystal ball but I wouldn’t think they’ll take it lying down.
“The DUP is useless, full stop. All of them are as weak as water. Except maybe Sammy Wilson. At least he has the backbone and morals.”
In the interview Stitt, who gained early release from prison under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and who leads the North Down unit of the East Belfast UDA, lamented that loyalist bands can no longer march through nationalist areas.
The man who notoriously described the loyalist North Down Defenders flute band as “our homeland security” in a 2016 interview told Ms McKay: “Drumcree was the start of the erosion of loyalist culture. Beginning of the end. Now no loyalist band gets to walk through a nationalist area — it’s all gone now.”
Ms McKay’s book (below) includes interviews with a wide range of people from all over Northern Ireland against the backdrop of Brexit, the centenary of the State and the prospect of a poll on Irish unity. They include students, politicians, ex-security force members, Troubles victims and survivors, business people, writers and former paramilitaries. It’s a follow-up to her acclaimed Northern Protestants: An Unsettled People published 20 years ago.
Northern Protestant: On Shifting Ground, published by Blackstaff Press.