Foster urged to intervene over UDA boss Stitt

Posted By: November 18, 2016

Allison Morris. Irish News (Belfast).Friday, November 18, 2016

First Minister Arlene Foster was challenged last night to intervene in the case of UDA commander Dee Stitt after she refused to back calls for him to resign as head of Charter NI.

The DUP leader said last month she understood he would not remain as chief executive of the east Belfast organization, which was chosen to manage £1.7 million of government funding.

She said: “That’s good because I think Dee Stitt has become the story and not the employability scheme.”

However, when asked yesterday whether she supported a call by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness for Stitt to reconsider his position, she said she could not influence the organization.

“This man is an employee of Charter NI and they have to deal with him as they see fit. It would be wrong for me to intervene in all of the different organizations that exist across Northern Ireland,” she said.

Stitt has come under intense pressure to leave his £35,000-a-year post since an interview in which he made a foul-mouthed attack on the British government and described his loyalist flute band as “homeland security”.

However, The Irish News revealed this week that the convicted armed robber was determined to stay on as chief executive and the Charter NI board has backed him to remain in post.

SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon last night questioned the response of Mrs. Foster one year on from the Fresh Start agreement.

“Where is the accountability?” she asked.

“What message does this send out to the public and other groups across Northern Ireland? How is this a Fresh Start?”

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt also claimed the situation had effectively developed into “a standoff between the Northern Ireland Executive and the UDA, between democracy and paramilitarism.”