| 17.6°C Dublin

Paramilitary threat PSNI probes claims UDA threatened Jeffrey Donaldson's team as he ran for DUP leadership

The loyalist paramilitary group has been accused of deploying “bullyboy tactics” during the contest

Close

DUP MP for Lagan Valley Jeffrey Donaldson, launches his campaign to become leader of the DUP PIC Liam McBurney/PA Wire

DUP MP for Lagan Valley Jeffrey Donaldson, launches his campaign to become leader of the DUP PIC Liam McBurney/PA Wire

DUP MP for Lagan Valley Jeffrey Donaldson, launches his campaign to become leader of the DUP PIC Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is investigating claims the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) “threatened” a contender for the leadership of the Democratic Unionist Party.

The loyalist paramilitary group has been accused of deploying “bullyboy tactics” during the contest which saw Edwin Poots ratified as leader during a meeting in Belfast last night.

Multiple sources have told independent.ie that during the meeting Sir Jeffrey Donaldson claimed the UDA had “threatened” some of his team while he was campaigning to become party leader.

Mr Donaldson lost out to the Lagan Valley MLA who won by 19 votes to 17 in the poll carried out within the party's 36-strong electoral college earlier this month. It was the first contested leadership vote in the DUP's 50-year history.

The PSNI said it had “received a complaint that a number of members of a political party had been threatened during a recent leadership campaign”.

In a statement, a spokesperson added: “The full circumstances of the incident are still being established and enquiries are continuing at this time.”

But the allegation that loyalists “threatened” the democratic process within a democratic party has been condemned by SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, the new Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie and Sinn Fein MP John Finucane who described it as "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,” he said.

It's understood there were "frank exchanges" during last night's two-hour meeting over the way in which outgoing leader Arlene Foster was 'ousted' from the top job by some party members.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Mr Donaldson left the meeting before Mr Poot's made his first speech as leader as did Ms Foster, Gavin Robinson, Gregory Campbell and Nigel and Diane Dodds.

This article was updated on May 28, 2021

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Top Videos





Privacy