UDA-linked magazine urges support for DUP candidates
A UDA-linked magazine has called on loyalists to vote for the DUP's Emma Little-Pengelly and Nigel Dodds in next week's general election.
Both candidates are standing in marginal constituencies in Belfast containing large working-class loyalist areas.
The Loyalist, a monthly publication with links to the Ulster Political Research Group, urged voters to "get behind the unionist that they feel will best represent them and make sure they get the full support of you and your family and friends" but added that "the UPRG in areas like Taughmonagh and Belvoir would strongly urge a vote for Emma Little-Pengelly".
It said the South Belfast candidate "is a qualified barrister, a former Spad (special adviser) in Stormont and an MLA who has worked at a senior level not just within her party but at government and has the ability to be a very dedicated MP".
The magazine also urged loyalists to back the DUP's Nigel Dodds in North Belfast, who is expected to face a strong challenge from Sinn Féin candidate John Finucane.
The UDA linked Loyalist magazine had endorsed DUP candidates Nigel Dodds and Emma Little Pengelly in next week's General Election
It claimed the selection of the solicitor, whose father Pat Finucane was murdered by the UDA, "ties in nicely with the Sinn Féin attempt to portray fresh-faced members with clean hands but at the same time strong family ties to republicanism".
During the assembly election in March the magazine also backed DUP candidates.
Alliance MLA David Ford last night called on DUP leader Arlene Foster to clarify whether she accepts the endorsements.
“It is bad enough to have paramilitaries backing a political party at any time but it is especially troubling in this case, given it comes in the same week as a murder which is believed to be part of a UDA feud," he said.
"It is now 2017 – paramilitaries should not even exist, never mind be giving ringing endorsements of political candidates."
Sinn Féin's East Antrim candidate Oliver McMullan also accused the DUP of "ambivalence" over the UDA.
"There is no doubt that the UDA is a sectarian organisation, mired in criminality and drug dealing, extortion and murder," he said.
"But despite this the DUP appear content to cosy up to them, just as they have with the Tories."
The DUP, which has previously condemned the murder of Mr Horner and called for the disbandment of paramilitary groups, did not respond to a request for a comment last night.