Charter NI has links with UDA, says top PSNI officer

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin
Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin

Pressure is mounting on Charter NI after a senior police officer revealed that people connected with the organisation are members of the UDA.

The east Belfast community organisation is seeking an urgent meeting with police after assistant chief constable Stephen Martin said he believed that “an individual or individuals” involved with Charter NI have been engaged in paramilitary activity within the past year.

ACC Martin told BBC’s Nolan Show this morning: ““Charter as an organisation does very good work on the ground but clearly there are connections within that organisation to the UDA.

“That UDA as an organisation comprises all types of members. There are people who will have been members for a long time who keep their head down and have no active role in it other than they’re members and there will be people who are involved in crime at the other end.”

Charter NI received £1.7m from the Social Investment Fund, which was set up by Stormont to deliver social change.

Drew Haire, chairman of Charter NI said he was “shocked” by ACC Martins remarks.

He told the Nolan Show: “We are taking this whole affair very seriously. I am seeking a meeting with the PSNI to discuss what has been said.

“We don’t support or condone any illegal activity of any kind and if it is proven that there is illegal activity taking place then obviously the board members will consider their position.”

In a statement, the Executive Office said: “This is not an insignificant comment by Assistant Chief Constable Martin. We will be in contact with the PSNI to seek further clarification.

“Where there is evidence of criminal activity, we expect the police to investigate and bring those responsible before the courts.

“Courts and jail are the only place for anyone involved in paramilitarism.

“All those associated with Charter or any community enterprise must make a clear choice between paramilitarism and legitimate community work. There can be no acceptance of or ambivalence towards illegal activity.”