Reports that UVF members in east Belfast were offering stolen sandbags to flood-threatened householders have been strongly denied by the PUP.
The party said the claims were “malicious and unfounded”, while former DUP lord mayor Gavin Robinson said he saw no evidence of bags being sold illegally.
Thousands of sandbags were distributed as a precaution on Friday ahead of an afternoon high tide which was expected to flood homes in the Sydenham area.
Walls of sandbags were also constructed along the Lagan adjacent to Sydenham and in the docks area of the city.
East Belfast PUP representative Jonny Harvey said there was no truth in the stories about organised thefts and praised the east Belfast community for working together throughout a difficult experience.
He said: “On the face of it, this seems like another attempt to discredit and divide the PUL (Protestant/unionist/loyalist) community, when in fact the community as a whole should be receiving nothing but praise for their combined efforts in helping each other during this stressful and testing time.”
Councillor Robinson posted a message on Twitter which said: “There were many taken prior to distribution,but I don’t believe any ‘organisation’ was selling them.”
l Anyone requiring sandbags today is advised to collect them from Palmerston Road recycling centre rather than the Inverary Community Centre.