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DUP has been criticised for loyalist links

The then DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson wearing his Ulster Resistance beret. Picture by Pacemaker

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 at a Portadown rally alongside LVF leader Billy Wright.

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" to Northern Ireland.

Loyalist Jackie McDonald

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