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6 June 2017

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DUP belatedly bends to pressure over support by UDA/UVF-backed Loyalist Communities Council

DUP CANDIDATES eventually gave in to severe public pressure to reject loyalist paramilitary support after election candidate and former Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt tweeted on Monday evening that he does not accept the public support of the Loyalist Communities Council, the umbrella body supported by the UDA, the UVF and Red Hand Commando.

The Ulster Unionist Party followed Nesbitt’s lead in a statement on Tuesday morning, saying:

“We have not asked for the support of paramilitary organisations nor do we want the backing of organisations still engaged in paramilitary or criminal activity.”

The DUP dithered until Tuesday lunchtime when (and only after persistent questioning by William Crawley on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback) Jeffrey Donaldson eventually agreed with the UUP line.

In a public statement, the UDA/UVF-backed Loyalist Communities Council issued on Monday “urges every unionist and loyalist to ensure they turn out and vote for unionist candidates”, specifically calling for “every unionist” to vote for the DUP’s Nigel Dodds in North Belfast, the DUP’s Emma Little-Pengelly in South Belfast, and the DUP’s Gavin Robinson in East Belfast.

The LCC also called for support for the UUP’s Tom Elliott in Fermanagh & South Tyrone.

The endorsement came a week after the UDA feud murder in Bangor after which DUP leader Arlene Foster met a senior UDA figure in the following 48 hours and confessed that she hadn’t mentioned the murder or UDA disbandment.

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