MP Sylvia Hermon confirms loyalist ex-prisoners have 'come out to canvass with and for me' during election campaigning
NORTH Down MP Sylvia Hermon has confirmed that loyalist ex-prisoners canvassed "with and for me" during past election campaigns.
The Independent Unionist said those who had helped her had "dedicated themselves to building a peaceful future for us all".
Her comments came after prominent loyalist Jamie Bryson told a Westminster committee hearing on Wednesday that "loyalists leafleted for Lady Hermon and helped erect election posters in Bangor's Kilcooley estate in 2010".
Responding to the claim, Lady Hermon, the widow of former RUC chief Sir John Hermon, accepted that loyalists, who had "turned away from violence", had helped in the past.
She said loyalists had been "warmly welcomed in Kilcooley" when she first stood for election 17 years ago.
"It was these few men, loyalist ex-prisoners, who were instrumental in setting up what became a very successful community restorative scheme in Kilcooley, one I was proud to support," she told The Irish News.
"Trust and friendship grew during those years and so when it comes to general elections, those loyalist ex-prisoners...have come out to canvass with and for me.
"I'm talking about a handful of people, people who have had a past but who have dedicated themselves to building a peaceful future for us all."