DUP man declines to name meeting organisers after UDA allegation

Councillor Wesley Irvine (former north Down mayor)
Councillor Wesley Irvine (former north Down mayor)

A councillor has declined to name exactly who was behind a meeting he attended in north Down, described by the BBC as having been a UDA gathering.

BBC Spotlight said a meeting of the terror group’s “north Down battalion” in a Bangor community hall in May had been addressed by Dee Stitt and attended by DUP alderman Wesley Irvine, who was “handing out voter registration forms” and party literature.

A source (whose identity was hidden by the BBC) was quoted on Spotlight on Tuesday night as saying no women were present, that everyone had been asked to leave their phones outside, and that the UDA “rank and file” had been seated before the group’s “commanders”.

Alderman Irvine told the show he had never attended a UDA meeting, condemned all paramilitaries.

He also said the meeting in question had been a flute band practice, and that the council could confirm such a booking, and that he did not hand out party material – rather, he was encouraging voter registration.

When contacted by the News Letter on Wednesday, he was asked to name the flute band.

He referred the newspaper to his previous statement to the show, and the party’s central press office.

He was also asked to name those at the meeting, including the organisers, but did not.

It was one of two alleged UDA meetings which Spotlight said had taken place, the other having been a meeting in east Belfast involving “hundreds” of UDA men, designed to drum up support for the DUP.

The PSNI said that it was assessing the show’s content to see “if any possible offences have been disclosed”.

The DUP said in a party statement: “The DUP does not support or endorse paramilitary activity of any kind. There is no place for any paramilitary organisation in our society.

“Anyone involved in illegal activity must face the full weight of the law. People with such information should bring it to the police.

“We will work with those who leave paramilitary activity behind and want to build a better Northern Ireland.”