LiveDUP in crisis - PSNI receive complaint that DUP members were allegedly threatened and intimidated by UDA

The PSNI has confirmed it received a complaint that some DUP members were allegedly threatened and intimidated by the UDA in the days leading up to the ratification of Edwin Poots as the new leader of the party.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 5:57 pm

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New DUP leader, Edwin Poots.

LIVE UPDATES: DUP in crisis - PSNI receive complaint that DUP members were allegedly threatened and intimidated by UDA

Last updated: Friday, 28 May, 2021, 17:25

PSNI receive complaint that DUP members were allegedly threatened and intimidated by UDA

New DUP leader, Edwin Poots.

The PSNI has confirmed it received a complaint that some DUP members were allegedly threatened and intimidated by the UDA in the days leading up to the ratification of Edwin Poots as the new leader of the party.

In a statement issued within the last hour the PSNI said: “Police have received a complaint that a number of members of a political party had been threatened during a recent leadership campaign.

“The full circumstances of the incident are still being established and enquiries are continuing at this time.”

Arlene Foster can step down as First Minister at a time of her choosing – Poots

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster can step aside at a time of her choosing, her successor as DUP leader has said - writes Rebecca Black and Cate McCurry, PA.

Edwin Poots was speaking after Mrs Foster indicated that if he names his ministerial team next Tuesday as expected, she will step down immediately.

She had previously said she would remain as First Minister until the end of June. She left her role as party leader on Friday.

Mr Poots is set to be the first DUP leader not to take the position of First Minister. He has said he will nominate a colleague in order to allow himself to focus on leading the party,

Speaking to the media in Belfast on Friday afternoon, he reiterated that he has no plans to “push” Mrs Foster out.

“I have said Arlene will leave at a time of Arlene’s choosing, I am not pushing Arlene out,” he said.

“That’s my position and that remains my position. I am not going to be rushed into doing anything or pushed into doing anything, nor am I going to be denied doing something that I am ready to do.

“We will look at all of these issues and take a decision at a time that is appropriate for us.

“I’ll reveal the ministerial line-up whenever I am ready to reveal my ministerial line-up, and that’s after I have continued my consultation process with my colleagues.”

Earlier, Mrs Foster confirmed she will leave the DUP when she steps down as First Minister.

Speaking to reporters as she visited pupils at Banbridge Academy, she was asked what she will do if Mr Poots unveils his team on Tuesday.

“My reaction is that I will resign as well because I have my ministerial team in the Executive with me, we have worked very closely together,” she said.

“If Edwin decides that he wants to change that team, I will have to go as well because I can’t stay with a new ministerial team of which I have no authority, and that would be wrong.”

Asked what message she has for the new party leader, Mrs Foster said: “Congratulations on becoming the fourth leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. It is a hugely rewarding job.

“There are very many good people who vote for us, who support us, but he (Mr Poots) needs to recognise there is a lot of work to do in terms of healing divisions that are quite obviously there in the party.”

Edwin Poots says Jeffrey Donaldson should report allegations of UDA intimidation influencing DUP leadership contest to PSNI

Edwin Poots pictured at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast on Thursday evening.

DUP leader Edwin Poots responded to reports that his former rival for the party leadership, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, claims his team were intimidated by a loyalist paramilitary group.

“If that’s the case then Jeffrey should report that to police,” Mr Poots said.

“If anyone was intimidated, that should be reported to police.

“I can assure you categorically that no member of my team engaged in any activities of intimidation or bullying. We fought a fair campaign, we fought a clean campaign, it was a close contest, I accepted the outcome and I would have accepted the outcome if I had lost it.

“I would encourage all others, if there was anything that was done untoward by any individual, then that should be reported to police, and it certainly didn’t come from my team.”

Asked if he felt snubbed by Sir Jeffrey, Lord Dodds and Gregory Campbell, who were among those who left the meeting before his speech following his ratification as leader, Mr Poots responded: “It’s for Nigel and Jeffrey and others to answer for themselves, I have conducted myself correctly and appropriately and with honour throughout all of this process and I will continue to do that in my role as leader of this party.”

Arlene Foster will resign as First Minister on Tuesday if Edwin Poots announces new ministerial team (four weeks earlier than originally planned)

Arlene Foster has confirmed she will leave the Democratic Unionist Party when she steps down as first minister of Northern Ireland.

Mrs Foster also said that if new party leader Edwin Poots appoints a new ministerial team on Tuesday, she will step down immediately as first minister.

She had previously said she would stay in the role until the end of June.

Speaking to reporters as she visited pupils at Banbridge Academy, Mrs Foster was asked what she will do if Mr Poots unveils his team on Tuesday.

“My reaction is that I will resign as well because I have my ministerial team in the Executive with me, we have worked very closely together,” Mrs Foster said.

“If Edwin decides that he wants to change that team, I will have to go as well because I can’t stay with a new ministerial team of which I have no authority, and that would be wrong.”

Asked what message she has for the new party leader, Mrs Foster said: “Congratulations on becoming the fourth leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. It is a hugely rewarding job.

“There are very many good people who vote for us, who support us but he (Mr Poots) needs to recognise there is a lot of work to do in terms of healing divisions that are quite obviously there in the party.”

Allegations UDA attempted to influence outcome of DUP leadership race ‘deeply disturbing’ says John Finucane, MP

NEW DUP leader, Edwin Poots.

Sinn Féin MP John Finucane has said reports that the UDA attempted to influence the DUP leadership contest, if true, are deeply disturbing.

The North Belfast MP said:

“Reports that the UDA were involved in threats and intimidation against supporters of Jeffrey Donaldson during the DUP leadership contest are deeply disturbing.

“If true, this is a very worrying development that an armed, illegal organisation was involved in influencing the outcome of the leadership contest of the largest party in unionism and a party of government.

“It represents an attempt to subvert the democratic process and that is totally unacceptable.

“Armed groups have no place in society and certainly not in the business of government.

“The PSNI needs to investigate these reports to find out whether they are accurate and establish exactly what happened and the DUP has a responsibility to fully co-operate with that investigation.”

We have asked both the PSNI and the DUP if it would like to respond to the allegations.

New UUP leader rules out electoral pact with other unionist parties

Doug Beattie (left) at Stormont, Belfast, after becoming the new leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and new deputy leader, Robbie Butler, MLA.

The new leader of the UUP, Doug Beattie, has ruled out an electoral pact with other unionist parties at the next Assembly elections.

The UUP leader said: “I am quite clear that this next election is a single transferable vote, you don’t need pacts. What we all need to do as unionist parties is put forward candidates who have a vision for Northern Ireland which is progressive and inclusive and welcoming. If you do that people will vote for you.”

New UUP leader reaches out to DUP members telling them his party is ‘open’ to them

New leader of the UUP, Doug Beattie.

New Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said the door of his party was “open” to any disillusioned DUP members who may want to join.

Mr Beattie said: “I would say to all of them, you are in a political party, they have an awful lot to offer as politicians wherever they decide to call home, if that is staying within the DUP or whether they look to go elsewhere.

“Our door is always open to people who want to come to the Ulster Unionist Party, but if they want to do so they come understanding the Ulster Unionist Party values and I will talk to them and anyone who wants to come to make sure they understand that before I offer them the ability to join.

“If we bring anyone in, and we are a welcoming party, it must be going in our direction, seeing Northern Ireland through our eyes.”

DUP leader Edwin Poots, and Deputy Leader Paula Bradley speak to the media, after leaving the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Belfast on the evening they were ratified leader and deputy leader of the DUP party.

Mr Beattie continued: “We have had conversations with a few individuals. No MLAs have approached me from the DUP; we may have some from local government, and other members and activists who may be talking to us now. That is seeing what they think and where they want to go and what is their vision for Northern Ireland.

“If it matches ours, if we have somewhere where they can fit into our party and structures and promote what is good for Northern Ireland then we can offer them a place in the Ulster Unionist Party.

When asked to clarify that some DUP councillors were having conversations with him about joining the UUP, Mr Beattie said: “Oh yes, without a doubt there is a few. Not hundreds, but there is a number. We will speak to them and they will know what we stand for.”

New DUP leader Edwin Poots denies party is divided

New leader of the DUP, Edwin Poots.

New DUP leader Edwin Poots has denied his party is divided - writes Rebecca Black and James Ward, PA.

The Stormont Agriculture Minister was ratified by his party following a stormy meeting at a Belfast hotel on Thursday night.

Outgoing leader Arlene Foster and several senior figures including Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Gavin Robinson and Diane Dodds left the building before Mr Poots rose to give his speech.

Paul Bell, a DUP member of 20 years from Mrs Foster’s Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency, dramatically resigned from the party over its treatment of her.

He hit out at those who ousted Mrs Foster, and warned the party stands to lose thousands of votes at the next election.

“This is going to be a real problem for the DUP. The votes that are going to be shed by the DUP is not in their hundreds, it’s in their thousands. It’s in their tens of thousands,” he said.

“We cannot go round the doors, the people in Fermanagh and South Tyrone will vote for anyone but the DUP. That is because, not of an election, that is because of what took place before the election.”

DUP member Paul Bell announces his resignation, due to the treatment of Arlene Foster, from the DUP party at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Belfast on the evening of Edwin Poots’ ratification as the new DUP leader.

Mr Poots later addressed the media alongside the newly ratified deputy leader Paula Bradley, with supporters gathered behind him.

He described the meeting as “good” and said it is a “great privilege” to now lead the party that his father had helped form 50 years ago.

Mr Poots said there had been a debate and a contest, and that the contest “had been decided”.

“We will move forward in a united way,” he said.

“The DUP is not a divided party, the DUP has went through an electoral contest, the first in 50 years, and everybody that goes through an electoral contest will have some passion, and passion is good in politics.

“I like to see people having passion, sometimes even when they are people contesting with me. I like to see people who are passionate in their arguments.”

Mr Poots added that he hoped to be able to speak to Mr Bell “in the near future”.

“Sometimes people don’t like the outcome and they do things in the heat of the moment, I have a lot of respect for the gentleman,” he said.

Mr Poots narrowly defeated Sir Jeffrey Donaldson earlier this month in the party’s first leadership contest.

In a speech following his ratification, he vowed to revive unionism and scrap the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“We will consistently roll back the objectional provisions of the Protocol, as we have been doing,” he said.

“That involves arguing our case forcefully and with conviction. It involves making Brussels and Dublin aware that the Protocol is intolerable and unworkable.

“Legal challenges are one correct tactic, but the guaranteed way of reading our sales of the divisive Protocol is through the Assembly.”

He added: “We will employ political tactics to continue the pressure, and let Dublin see that isn’t some hiccup, but rather something that has the worrying capacity to destabilise relationships that they have gained most from.”

Sammy Wilson MP leaving the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Belfast on the evening of Edwin Poots ratification as the new DUP leader.

Mr Poots said his challenge was to encourage supporters of unionism to get out and vote.

He also called for a “united unionist coalition” ahead of the next Assembly elections.

Mr Poots said the only way of preventing a border poll and getting rid of the Protocol was by securing a Unionist majority at the next election.

In his speech, Mr Poots paid tribute to Ms Foster’s leadership of the party.

He said: “Arlene is and will be regarded as one of the most foremost women and unionists in British politics.

“Irrespective of our differences in any issues that have brought us here this evening, she is admired by us all.”

Mrs Foster announced her resignation as First Minister and DUP leader last month following an internal revolt against her leadership.

She said she would step down as DUP leader on Friday and as First Minister at the end of June.

Earlier this week, Mrs Foster said she still had not seen the reported letter of no confidence in her leadership.

DUP MP Ian Paisley said he understands the party chairman Lord Morrow has read the letter to her and told her the names who signed it.

“The process that the party has always adopted is that those letters are not shared with other people who have gone,” he said.

“My father never ever saw the requisition order that was signed against him. He accepted it because he accepted the good grace and standing of our party chairman.”

Mr Poots has signalled that he will become the first DUP leader not to take the First Minister position at Stormont, and will instead nominate a colleague in order to focus on the job of leading the party.

MLAs Mervyn Storey and Paul Givan are reportedly being considered for the post.

Gregory Campbell and Jeffrey Donaldson pictured leaving the hotel on Thursday evening. (Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye)

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