DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has been criticised for backing a party election candidate whose actions he admitted were “indefensible”.
Tyler Hoey is set to stand for the DUP as a council candidate in Ballymena in the local elections in May.
Hoey has a long history of sectarian contributions to social media, including liking a tweet in support of those who carried out the UDA’s massacre of eight innocent civilians in Greysteel, County Derry, in 1993.
Hoey also mocked the deaths of 39 Vietnamese immigrants who perished in the back of a lorry, insulted transgender people, and voiced support for the drug dealing South East Antrim UDA.
Hoey, who is aged 29, posted some of the comments as recently as 2020. Donaldson said he believes Tyler Hoey is entitled to a “second chance” and described the posts as “historical”.
“This is a young man, and many people in their youth make mistakes, and say and do things they regret, and I think he is entitled to a second chance,” he said.
The most offensive post he liked praised the perpetrators of the Rising Sun massacre and described how they “trick or treated” their way into the pub where the slaughter took place on October 30, 1993
In WhatsApp messages he also complains about a pub DJ not playing “UDA tunes”, saying: “That DJ better play f*****g UDA this time with no questions asked… he’s played a few but for whatever reason he was near gurning to me... then I said I’ll throw his laptop across the dance-floor.”
Despite his social media behaviour, Hoey was invited to party fundraising dinners attended by Tory MPs including Jacob Rees-Mogg, and has been pictured on several occasions with senior DUP figures such as Ian Paisley Jr and Arlene Foster.
A niece of one of those killed in the Rising Sun condemned Hoey’s selection.
“As the niece of a victim of the Greysteel Massacre, I am appalled that a candidate who has shown support for hateful tweets about my uncle’s murder has been selected,” Fiona Jane posted on Twitter.
“Hate has no place in our society, and I refuse to stay silent while it is given a platform.”