Stitt quits: loyalist head of Charter NI steps down

Senior loyalist David ‘Dee’ Stitt has resigned as CEO of charity Charter NI due to “negative media attention”.

Convicted armed robber Stitt, who denies being a UDA chief (though admits having been a UDA member prior to the group being proscribed), faced calls for his resignation in 2016 in the wake of a newspaper interview in which he launched a foul-mouthed tirade against the Government and claimed his flute band in north Down provided “homeland security”.

Prominent loyalist Dee Stitt

Prominent loyalist Dee Stitt

In an interview with the News Letter in April this year, Mr Stitt defended his role in the Social Investment Fund, which the DUP and Sinn Fein set up to address deprivation but which opposition parties claimed was partially being used as a ‘slush fund’.

In 2016, it emerged that Charter NI was overseeing the delivery of a £1.7 million employment scheme in east Belfast as part of the Stormont Executive’s £80 million Social Investment Fund (SIF).

The organisation announced Mr Stitt’s resignation in a statement.

He will, however, remain with Charter NI as a ‘project manager’.

A spokesperson for the board of Charter NI said: “David has asked that we accept his resignation of CEO duties within Charter NI (tendered on Tuesday, August 28).

“This has been accepted by the Board at a meeting held on Friday, August 31.

“The Board would like to thank David for his commitment and dedication to Charter NI, especially through difficult times.”

The spokesperson continued: “Negative media attention has been a great strain on David and his family and we offer them our continued support.”

In the same statement, Mr Stitt said: “The reality is that I’m putting my family first from now on, as all the negative media attention that the CEO role brought me has affected my wife and our young daughter.

“It’s as simple as my past is constantly affecting my future and I have no control over that and I never will.”

The Charter NI statement continued: “David will continue on with his job as project manager for Charter NI with the Open Doors Ex-Prisoner Project supported by Co-operation Ireland.

“Charter NI Board will now begin the process of an organisational restructure and will fully support the current staff and management team through this process. “