Dee Stitt row: MP says loyalist should not be in CEO post

image captionDee Stitt, pictured with Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster, has been criticised for remarks made in an article in the Guardian newspaper

A Northern Ireland MP has said a leading loyalist should not be CEO of a publicly-funded community group.

The DUP's Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Charter NI's Dee Stitt would not be in post were he in charge of the Belfast organisation.

Mr Stitt has been criticised for remarks made in an article in the Guardian newspaper.

He described loyalist band the North Down Defenders as "our homeland security."

Mr Stitt, also a leading UDA member, further claimed the government does not care about Northern Ireland in a foul-mouthed attack..

Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson told the BBC's Nolan Show any change to Mr Stitt's position is a matter for Charter NI.

'Comments of one individual'

However, the MP said were he in charge of the organisation, "I would not have him as my chief executive in light of these comments".

"I can only express a personal opinion. It's a matter for Charter NI if he should remain the chief executive."

The MP said Mr Stitt's comments were "highly regrettable" and he did not support them in any way.

But he said the community organisation, recently given nearly £2m of public money, "do some excellent work in east Belfast".

"I am not going to play the game of condemning the work of an entire organisation because of the comments of one individual."

image captionCharter NI, a community-based organisation in east Belfast, was awarded a £1.7m grant by the executive

Mr Donaldson also said the organisation enjoyed the support of Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster because of their work "to transform communities in east Belfast."

The Northern Ireland Executive has awarded a £1.7m grant to Charter NI which is a community-based organisation in East Belfast.

The money came from the executive's social investment fund.

Mr Stitt had previously released a statement to the BBC's Nolan Show where he challenged allegations that he was a UDA commander.

He told the BBC "to the best of my knowledge, none of these allegations have been supported by evidence being presented to the PSNI".

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