A DUP council candidate has denied being a supporter of the loyalist paramilitary UDA, despite attending an event glorifying the paramilitary gang and wearing a t-shirt branded with the UDA logo.
When confronted by a journalist from the Sunday Life newspaper, former British soldier David McKee, who is standing in the Collin ward of Belfast in next month’s elections, said: “I admit it looks bad, doesn’t it?”
McKee claimed he wasn’t a member of the UDA. “I was a member of the UPRG (UDA’s political wing), but I left to join the DUP,” he said.
Standing next to McKee in the photograph is a racist UDA member Stephen ‘Crofty’ Croft, who was filmed earlier this month drunkenly ranting at Middle Eastern staff in a Belfast takeaway. Pointing to his UDA tattoo, Croft screamed at the frightened workers: “F**k off back to Iraq, f**k off back to your own country.
“You’re dead. You’ll be shot by the time I leave here. See that UVF, UDA, UFF (pointing at his tattoos). I’ll have you shot boy by the end of the night.”
Asked if he thought the picture will damage his election hopes, McKee said: “I wonder who gave it (the image) to you? Someone must have it in for me.”
In a statement issued later through the DUP press office, there was a different tone. McKee said: “I repudiate all forms of criminality. Democracy is how to effect change in society. That is why I am standing for election.”
MASSACRE SUSPECT IN UUP PUSH
Meanwhile, a man who narrowly escaped death in the Loughinisland massacre has spoke of his shock after a suspect in the notorious atrocity was pictured helping put up election posters for Ulster Unionist candidate Alan Lewis.
In 1994, loyalist paramilitaries burst into a pub in the County Down village with assault rifles and fired on the customers, killing six civilians and wounding five.
Ronnie Hawthorn, who was named by a major documentary in connection with the 1994 attack, was seen erecting posters close to the village for Lewis, who has declined to comment.
Aidan O’Toole, who was seriously injured while working behind the bar when the massacre took place, said the situation had been retraumatising for the Loughinisland victims.
“I still have my good days and bad days - things like this can be a real set back for us all,” he said.
“I wonder has Mr Lewis even bothered to watch ‘No Stone Unturned’, and would he maybe like to take the time to meet the families so we can explain to him at first hand the hurt his association with Hawthorn is causing us all.”
* A sectarian slogan was painted on a Sinn Féin election poster in Limavady, County Derry. K.A.T (kill all taigs) was sprayed on one of Brenda Chivers’ posters in Limavady ahead of next month’s local elections. Crosshairs were painted on another poster in the town.
Sinn Féin East Derry MLA Caoimhe Archibald said the vandalism had been reported to police as a hate crime.
“The vandalism of election posters is a criminal offence and a clear attempt to frustrate the democratic process and upset our campaign to ensure the people of the Limavady area have a strong Sinn Féin voice representing them at council,” she said.
* Paint was thrown at Sacred Heart Church in Ballyclare between Saturday night and Sunday morning. “Bigoted thugs” have been blamed for the attack on the Catholic church, which was reported on Easter Sunday morning.
SDLP councillor Noreen McClelland described the attack as a “desecration”.
“This is an appalling, senseless act, the motive being to cause hurt and distress to the Catholic community of Ballyclare,” she said. “Easter Sunday is a special date in the Christian calendar and for the congregation to find their church defaced in such a way is totally unacceptable.”