Ex-UDA prisoner running as DUP council candidate
THE DUP has defended a decision to select of a former UDA prisoner as a candidate in this month's local government elections.
In what is being regarded as bid to win votes from disaffected working-class Protestants, the party is running Sam 'Chalky' White in the heart of leader Peter Robinson's former Westminster constituency.
The 56-year-old is standing in east Belfast's Titanic electoral area. He was jailed for seven years in 1980 for his part in a hold-up at an east Belfast taxi office and served his sentence on the UDA wing of the Maze prison.
Mr White, pictured, now works as a community worker with Charter NI and sits on one of the Social Investment Fund steering groups.
It is not the first time the north's largest political party has forged links with former UDA or Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) figures.
Former Belfast deputy mayor Frank McCoubrey, who joined the DUP in 2012 and is also standing in the May 22 election, previously represented the UDA-linked Ulster Democratic Party.
Another controversial DUP council candidate is Bobby Rice, or Robert harrison-Rice, as he is known on his nomination form.
Last year the DUP veteran was forced off Carrickfergus Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) after making controversial social media posts.
Mr Rice (60) had appeared to support calls for Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly to be shot. He was also accused of making abusive comments about broadcasters Stephen Nolan and Julian Simmons, as well as a racist remark about US president Barack Obama.
Last month, the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) refuted suggestions that it was urging its supporters to vote for the DUP.
A mock ballot paper distributed by the group as part of its 'register, vote, transfer' campaign featured a first preference vote beside a DUP candidate. However, the group later insisted it was did not back any one unionist party over another.
A DUP spokesman defended its candidate selections and said the party had a consistent record of condemning violence, irrespective of its origin.
"As the largest party, the DUP is fielding almost 200 candidates in the local government elections," he said.
"These candidates are grounded in their community and want the best for their area." He added that regardless of background, DUP candidates supported the rule of law.
"Those who follow a path of violence are to be condemned and have no place in our society," he said.