DUP Speaker Robin Newton has rejected allegations that he misled the Assembly over his links to a UDA-linked community organisation but said he will now not seek re-election to the position.
The East Belfast MLA is under increasing pressure after a BBC Spotlight programme claimed he misled the assembly about the extent of his association with Charter NI.
The community group, which was awarded management of £1.7m of public money for an employability project, is headed up by alleged UDA ‘commander’ Dee Stitt.
Mr Newton, who is still being paid £87,000-a-year as speaker and MLA despite the assembly not sitting, previously told MLAs that while he offered advice to Charter NI as part of his role as an elected representative he was not an “advisor” to the east Belfast group.
However, a BBC Spotlight investigation into the controversial Social Investment Fund (SIF) has claimed documents dating back several years show he attended board meetings, helped head-hunt board members and lobbied funders on behalf of the organisation, which repeatedly refers to him in minutes as an advisor.
Mr Newton said: “I reject the allegations in the Spotlight programme. I did not mislead the NI Assembly. I have never been appointed to any position with Charter NI. I am not responsible for how others refer to me in their correspondence.
“I will not be a candidate for Speaker in any new Assembly. At the next NI Assembly sitting, I will chair the election of a new Speaker as the first matter of business.”
One set of minutes featured in the Spotight programme says that he helped to “steer” the board and did “more than just go to the board meetings”.
The Irish News previously reported how Mr Newton lobbied for money for Charter NI just weeks before refusing an urgent assembly question by the SDLPs Nichola Mallon about its funding.
He apologised to assembly members for not delegating the decision given his links to the group.
David Ford, Alliance Deputy Leader, called for Mr Newton’s immediate resignation.
“If these allegations are true, and judging by the documents unveiled on tonight’s programme, they are, then the Speaker has no option but to resign his role with immediate effect…”
“Alliance recognises people with a paramilitary past can play a positive and constructive role in society. But when people with a paramilitary present are doing so, there is a problem. That is the situation with some individuals in Charter NI.
“We have serious concerns about the lack of fairness and effective use of resources being directed towards certain groups, which is why we wrote in the summer to ask for an Audit Office investigation into SIF.
“There also needs to be a revised paramilitary strategy which is backed by all parties and which has clearly defined goals and targets. Only by doing so can we finally remove the poison of paramilitarism from society.”
Speaking last night, the SDLP deputy leader said; “It is clear from the documentation unearthed by Spotlight that Mr Newton failed to declare to the assembly and public the full extent of his role with Charter NI when he ruled against my urgent oral question on the funding of public money to this organisation from being heard and answered.”
The DUP did not respond to request for a comment last night, but Mr Newton told Spotlight in a statement that he has worked with and offered advice to all sections of the east Belfast community, including community organisations, and some of his contacts have been formal, stronger or longer than others.
It has been claimed that the DUP used the Social Investment Fund, administered by the Executive Office, to help attract votes from hardline loyalist communities.
The BBC put this question to former leader Peter Robinson, said to be the architect of the fund, who responding by saying “Catch yourself on”, adding that most political parties had held meetings with former paramilitary leaders at some stage.
In a statement to Spotlight, the Executive Office said: “Appropriate governance procedures are in place to ensure the programme is delivered and managed effectively.”
With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.
I PERSONALLY HAVE NEVER HEARD OF IT. IN THE NORTH OF IRELAND. OR THE SOUTH OF IRELAND? AND I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFETIME HEARD IT SPOKEN & I’M 52-YEARS-OLD.
NOW THIS APPEARED ON THE BBC NEWS:
Ulster-Scots is a language which has been part of life here since the first Scots planters arrived in Ulster in the 17th Century. But more than 400 years on, it has become a sticking point in the Stormont talks.
In response to demands for an Irish Language Act, the UN-Democratic Unionst Party, DUP, Anti Irish, Anti-same-sex marriage, Anti-gay and not forgetting Anti-LGBT Party. Is calling on Ulster Scot’s to recognised in the same way as the Irish Language.
And they are not joking. Are they having a fucking laugh?
Im looking fotward to the feedback: Seachranaidhe1
This letter appeared in the Irish News today written from a unionist point-of-view have a read and make up your own minds. “Now For everyone who messaged me when I asked them not to.YOUR PUNISHMENT IS BEING ASKED TOLEAVE MY FACEBOOKACCOUNT IMEDDITLY. I KNOW THE PUNISHMENT SEEMS A LITTLE HARSH BUT ITS FACEBOOK PAGE AND I CAN CHOOSE WHO I WISH TO BE FRIENDS. I HAVE WORKED VERY HARD ON THIS STORY. AND FELL TO SLEEP WHILST WRITING LAST NIGHT. AND TO BE HONEST I DON’T NEED FRIENDS LIKE YOU. SO GOODBYE.
THE DUP ARE NOT WHAT PEOPLE THINK THEY ARE THEY ARE LIERS, CHEATS, ASSOCIATED WITH THE UDA, Red Hand Commando and the UVF. ENGLAND NEED TO KNOW WHO THEY ARE REALLY DEALING WITH THEY ARE THE SCUM OF THE EARTH & DECEATFUL,UNTRUSTWORTHY,AND YOU NEED TO WATCH YOU BACK WITH THEM. DON’T TRUST THEM TO GO INTO GOVERNMENT WITH. THE SECRET DEAL WON’T WORK IN THE NORTH OF IRELAND. BECAUSE SINN FÉIN WILL NOT GO INTO GOVERNMENT WITH THEM. THEY ARE LAYERS. AND WITHOUT A GOVERMENT THEY ARE FU
READ THIS FROM SCOTLAND:
SECTARIAN SCOTLAND YOU ARE A SHOWER OF BRAINWASHED NUMPTIES.
I was accused by Sectarian idiots of being an Orange Bastard for going to the Netherlands For Independence Event in April 2017
Yesterday I was accused of being a Fenian Bastard because an Irish band turned up at the Bannockburn Rally. It was a public event I did not invite them.
Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) was launched on 13th October 2015. With the full backing of the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando and was also the group which give it’s full backing to the ten recently elected Unionist DUP Westminster MP’s
A former chairman of the Ulster Unionist Party has resigned from the party and accused it of “political mismanagement and amateurism”.
David Campbell had been a party member for 35 years, and served as former leader David Trimble’s chief of staff.
Mr Campbell is also chairman of the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC).
The organisation became part of a major controversy during the last election after it endorsed some unionist candidates.
The endorsement was rejected by both Robin Swann, the current UUP leader, and his predecessor Mike Nesbitt.
Speaking to the BBC’s Talkback programme, he said the final straws for him were the UUP’s reaction to the LCC’s endorsement of unionist candidates and the “failure to consider a proper electoral pact with the DUP”.
“My personal view is that the party has gone past a tipping point, we did have a period before where we had no MPs before, but we had a strong assembly party,” he said.
“I think the electoral dynamic in Northern Ireland has changed irrevocably following the Sinn Féin success in the pre-emptive assembly election.
“That is pointing to two largely hegemonic parties in respect to nationalist and unionist communities and it is the prime reason that voters flocked to the DUP in this [general] election.”
Mr Campbell said there had been a drift away from traditional Ulster Unionist values, with former leader Mike Nesbitt and others declaring themselves liberal unionists.
“The typical Ulster Unionist voter is a church-goer who would be largely traditional conservative in their outlook and they were being presented with, in some cases, candidates espousing a very different view on serious moral issues,” he said.
“The comfort I take in the electoral decline of the Ulster Unionist Party is that the DUP has moved largely exclusively onto Ulster Unionist policy through their acceptance of the agreement and the subsequent power-sharing arrangements and the drift of Ulster Unionism into the DUP.
“I think in the eyes of the average unionist elector the DUP is largely what the Ulster Unionist Party once was.”
When asked if he thought the DUP was now the only viable party of unionism he said: “Undoubtedly, and that’s clearly [a view] shared by the electorate.”
Ulster Unionist councillor David Browne said he did not agree that the party was finished.
“I do believe that the party has changed drastically from the party I joined around 35 years ago and I do agree with some of the comments he made around the previous leadership,” he said.
“Robin Swann is only in the job and in fairness to him I though he’s done a reasonably good job.”
The DUP said tonight on English News: “All the cliam’s about my party were untrue and unfounded” but my response is “I am very sorry to say she lied”.
Ms Foster said she would not ‘negotiate over the airwaves’
The Democratic Unionist Party leader has said she hopes to seal a deal on supporting Theresa May’s minority government “sooner rather than later”.
After meeting the prime minister in Downing Street, Arlene Foster said discussions were “going well” and she hoped for a “successful conclusion”.Apparently a final meeting to approve the deal is set for Wednesday.
But ex-Conservative PM Sir John Major said he was “dubious” about the idea and its impact on the peace process.
The Conservatives are having to rely on the support of 10 DUP MPs after they fell eight seats short of winning an overall majority at the general election.
But Sir John told BBC World at One that if the party “locked” itself into a deal with one of the main parties in Northern Ireland, there was a danger the government would no longer be seen as an “impartial honest broker” in restoring the power-sharing arrangements and upholding NI institutions.
Peace in Northern Ireland should “not be regarded as a given”, said Sir John – whose government laid the foundations for the peace process in the 1990s – and nothing should be done to “exaggerate the differences” between the unionist and nationalist communities.
I am “concerned” about a deal with the DUP, says former prime minister Sir John Major
He urged Theresa May to consider governing on her own, saying this would not “carry the baggage” for the Conservatives that an arrangement with the DUP would.
Sir John suggested the DUP would be asking for money and that would be seen as the “government paying cash for votes in Parliament”, and would be received badly in other parts of the UK.
The agreement with the DUP is expected to be very different to the coalition deal agreed between the Conservatives and Lib Dems in 2010, with DUP politicians not getting cabinet jobs and their support for the majority of new legislation to be determined on a vote-by-vote basis.
The Secretary of State for the North of Ireland, James bronkenshire will not be accepted as impartial to the negiotions on restoring the North of IRELAND institutions. He has to go !!
Asked about Sir John’s comments during a trip to Paris, Mrs May said she was “absolutely steadfast” in her support for the 1998 Good Friday Agreement – which created the Northern of Ireland Assembly – and efforts to revive the power-sharing executive.
QMrs May, who has been holding talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on counter-terrorism and Brexit, said the “productive” talks with the DUP were about “giving stability to the UK government that is necessary at this critical time” ahead of the start of the Brexit process.
Bercow: I’m a Speaker ‘for testing times’
May to meet Macron for anti-terror talks
The clock’s ticking, EU warns UK
Reality Check: Has election changed EU views of Brexit?
Conservative sources said “constructive” progress had been made in the talks and both sides were “working carefully through the paperwork” to complete the deal.
Mrs Foster told the BBC areas being discussed including Brexit, counter-terrorism and “doing what’s right for Northern Ireland in respect of economic matters”.
The BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said the DUP was likely to demand money for investment in Northern Ireland and an end to austerity.
“At least someone got a landslide” – the PM’s comment was met with laughter
Sinn Fein, whose seven MPs will not take their seats in Westminster, said any deal must be approved by the Northern Ireland executive when it is back up and running.
“Any agreement reached with the DUP – financial or otherwise – cannot be to the detriment of anyone else in our society,” said Belfast West MP Paul Maskey.
Earlier in the Commons, as MPs gathered for the first time since the election, Jeremy Corbyn congratulated Mrs May on “returning as PM” and said he “looked forward to this Parliament, however short it may be”.
The Labour leader joked that he welcomed the prospect of a Queen’s Speech once this “coalition of chaos has been negotiated”, but said if this did not happen, he was “ready to offer strong and stable leadership in the national interest”.
Two Terrorist Supporters elected as MPs Emma ‘Little’ Pengelly (MP) and Gavin Robinson (MP).
And now talk of Sinn Féin talking of taking their seats in Westminster to defeat the Tory party and try and stop Brexit.
Arlene Foster now holds the playing cards but there is still two very difficult questions for her answer. “How can she work both deals”
(1) In the negotiations Here in the North of Ireland. Where there is no government?
(2) In the negotiations in England where the Tories are “up shit creak without a paddle.”?
She even went on to speak in Irish using the words “Sin É” pronounced in English as (Shin A) meaning “That’s it”.
This could not only force another re-election in the North of Ireland, but also another re-election in England, Scoland & Wales.
It would be a complete disaster for the Conservite’s and the DUP, here in the North of Ireland (Northern Ireland). The English people as a nation need to watch their backs. Don’t trust a Tory and don’t trust ‘The DUP’!
In 2015, The DUP built it’s election campaign around the idea that that it’s MPs might be Kingmakers at Westminster. Their posters bore the a the slogan “More Votes. More Seats. More Influence. More for Northern Ireland”. When David Cameron won his majority, that strategy was quietly forgotten.
“While I was writing this it was confirmed that the DUP has reached a deal with the Tory party. A DUP Sourcesaid:“We want there to be a government. We have worked well with May. The Alternative is intolerable. For as long as Corbyn leads Labour, We will ensure there’s a ToryP.M.”was written in the: The guardian, Newspaper.
The Tories are now in very serious trouble the backbenchers are unhappy WIth the ‘New collation between the tory’s and the DUP.
But come on be honest, by you looking at a picture like that (picture below). Would you trust Boris Johnson? Honestly? because I wouldn’t.
All 18 of the North of Ireland’s MPs have been confirmed with the SDLP and UUP losing their seats at Westminster.
The final result came in Fermanagh and South Tyrone where the UUP’s Tom Elliottlost to Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew M.P.
Former SDLP Party Leaders Mark Durkan, Margaret Richie and Alasdair McDonnell were toppled in Foyle, South Down and Belfast South.
In Foyle, Sinn Féin’s Elisha Mc Callion won by 169 votes after a recount.
But that’s the position the 10 newly returned MPs are in, despite Arlene Foster predicting it did “not look likely” at the campaign outset. And latter saying “It would be difficult to do a deal”.
The DUP party has been criticised in the past for sharing platforms with representatives of loyalist paramilitaries.
In 1996, former MP Rev William McCrea stood ata Portadown rally alongside LVF leader Billy Wright (pictured below).
The ruthless paramilitary group, which split from the UVF in 1996, was responsible for high-profile murders including the killing of Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick.
In the mid-1980s the DUP also had close links with Ulster Resistance, set up in response to the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
The group was launched in 1986 at a rally in the Ulster Hall in Belfast addressed by then DUP leader Ian Paisley.
Peter Robinson, who at the time was his party’s deputy leader, was later photographed at another Ulster Resistance rally wearing a beret.
The party cut ties with the group in 1987 when members were linked to arms finds.
The father of the DUP’s Emma Little Pengelly, who has just won the South Belfast seat, is Noel Little, a Co Armagh loyalist and founder of Ulster Resistance.
Little was one of three men arrested in Paris in 1989 in connection with a plot to exchange a missile stolen from Shorts for South African guns.
After spending two years on remand the trio received suspended sentences and fines.
The weapons they sought to procure were destined for the UVF, UDA and Ulster Resistance.
In 2014 the DUP and other unionist parties were also criticised for joining the UVF-linked PUP in signing up to a ‘graduated response’ following the banning of an Orange Order parade in Ardoyne, north Belfast.
The ‘graduated response’ later failed to materialise after the PUP, TUV and Ukip withdrew their support for the pan-unionist group amid allegations of “betrayal” over parading.
In June 2017 Arlene Foster was criticised over meeting a UDA leader just days after a breakaway faction of the paramilitary organisation was linked to a brutal murder.
The DUP leader spoke with Jackie McDonald at a community office in the Taughmonagh area of south Belfast on Tuesday during canvassing ahead of next week’s general election.
In February, before Assembly election, he urged voters to get behind Mrs Foster saying her “experience and dedication has helped bring about stability and prosperity.
What voters in Britain make of Tory ‘kingmakers’
GIVEN how dear the DUP holds the union with Britain, relatively few people in the rest of the UK are familiar with the party and its policies.
As it became apparent on Friday that Theresa May planned to form a government with Arlene Foster’s party, social media was filled with contributors offering insights into Westminister’s ‘Kingmakers’.
Notably, in the relatively liberal social climate of England, Scotland and Wales, the DUP’s conservative world view was highlighted in mostly pejorative terms.
Here’s a sample: Singer Paloma Faith tweeted: “DUP = awful: anti abortion anti LGBT rights anti woman’s rights and don’t believe in climate change. Very modern (sniff)”.
Left-leaning economist Richard Murphy, who has previously been vocal in his opposition to devolving corporation tax power’s to Stormont, said on Twitter: “If I had to choose a party to have undue influence over government the DUP would be the last barring UKIP. They’re a nightmare of prejudice.”
Environmentalist and Guardian columnist George Monbiot highlighted the links between the DUP and UDA, which just days ago added its voice to the Loyalist Communities Council statement urging voters to back Mrs Foster’s party at the polls. “I trust that The Daily Mail will now devote it’s first 13 pages to the #DUP’s associations with terrorism,” he tweeted.
Veteran Journalists and Channel 4 News anchorman Jon Snow tweeted: “One of the most extreme politicial entities in the British Isles, the 10 MPs of the DUP, is to wag the tail of Mrs May’s minority government.”
Former Liverpool footballer Stan Collymore posted an article from The Irish News which bore the headline ‘Arlene Foster has no regrets after being pictured with UDA Commander [Dee Stitt].
Under it the Talksport contributor wrote: “Come on Dacre and Murdoch and Hopkins and Robinson and Tories. Where’s your outrage now?”
Belfast-born former ITN foreign correspondent Andrea Catherwood tweeted: “Wait until you hear DUP’s views on homosexuality. They make Tim Farrin look like Peter Thatchell.”
Some, however, such as columnist Polly Toynbee misinterpreted the DUP’s priorities. “DUP top priority will be soft border, saving Good Friday agreement and free movement across boundary. That absolutely rules out hard Brexit,” she tweeted.
THE BBC had to issue a clarification at the end of it’s flagship programme after Sinn Féin’s Máirtín Ó Muilleoir made claims about DUP rival Emma Little Pengelly’s father.
The pair clashed on The View during a debate between South Belfast candidates for next week’s Westminister election broadcast from St George’s Market on Thursday night. In a heated exchange, Mr Ó Muilleoir refused to appologise for mentioning Mrs Pengelly’s father Noel Little after she urged the Sinn Féin MLA to condemn IRA bombings.
Mr Little was a founder of Ulster Resistance. In 1989 he was arrested in Paris in connection with a plot to exchange a missile stolen from Shorts for South African guns. The weapons sought were destined for the UVF, UDA and Ulster Resistance. After spending two years on remand, he and two others received suspended sentences and fines.
The well known and often bought magazine “The Loyalist” is mainly bought and sold wihin the loyalist community of North & West Belfast. Only to members of the UDA & UVF. Facing criticism from Mr Ó Muilleoir, she accused him of hypocrisy and urged him to condemn IRA acts of violence including the 1996 Manchester bombing. In response, Mr Ó Muilleoir said: ‘I wasn’t sure what point of this conversation I would get to mention your father, Emma, who when my father was being discriminated against working in the Harland & Wolff, was bringing in guns into this country which led to the slaughter along the Island.”
Mrs Pengelly interacted: “I’m going to stop you there.
His name was raised after Mrs Pengelly defended her Westminister candidacy being endorsed in a magazine connected to the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group. Alliance’s Paula Bradshaw called on Mrs Pengelly to publicly reject the endorsement.
Mrs Pengelly said the DUP has “clearly called for the UDA to go away, and all paramilitary organisations”. She added that the article in The Loyalist endorsed her because of the “hard work the DUP have been doing in the community for everybody”. Facing criticism from Mr Ó Muilleoir, she accused him of hypocrisy and urged him to condemn IRA acts of violence including the 1996 Manchester bombing.
Mrs Pengelly interjected: “I think its absolutely appalling for Máirtín to sit there and just say that. Because I think when Máirtín goes back to his group meeting of the MLAs from Sinn Féin and he looks left and right and he sees people in his party that have committed horrendous crimes, and I want him to think how would you feel, how would you feel, if their children – who had no responsibility for the actions of your colleagues – had to sit in a studio and hear abuse like you have given me. It’s a lack of respect, it is wrong and I am going to call you out on that.”
Asked by host Mark Carruthers if he wished to apologise, Mr Ó Muilleoir said: “I will not apologise for bringing up the question of Noel Little who brought in guns to this country. “But if Emma had any self-respect, she would not be trying to lecture other people on the terrible conflict we have been through. “You are the last person, to be lecturing.”
Mrs Pengelly said she has “clearly condemned all paramilitary violence”. At the end of the pre-recorded TV programme, a BBC continuiy announcer said: “We have been asked to point out that Noel Little was never convicted of arms importation to the North of Ireland. “He was given a suspended sentence and fined in a French court for his part in an intelligence plot.”
With many thanks to: Brendan Hughes, The Irish News, for the origional story.