PSNI investigates allegations UDA threatened members of Jeffrey Donaldson’s team as he ran for DUP leadership
The Northern Ireland Police Service (PSNI) is investigating allegations that the Ulster Defense Association (UDA) “threatened” a Democratic Unionist leadership candidate.
he loyalist paramilitary group has been accused of deploying ‘bullyboy tactics’ during the contest which saw Edwin Poots ratified as leader at a meeting in Belfast last night.
Several sources told Independent.ie that during the meeting Sir Jeffrey Donaldson claimed that the UDA had “threatened” part of his team as he campaigned to become party leader.
Mr Donaldson lost to the Lagan Valley MP who won by 19 to 17 in the poll of the party’s 36-member constituency earlier this month. It was the first contested leadership vote in the 50-year history of the DUP.
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 investigations are ongoing.”
But the allegation that loyalists “threatened” the democratic process within a democratic party has been condemned by SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, new Unionist leader of Ulster Doug Beattie and Sinn Fein MP John Finucane who described it as “deeply disturbing”.
“If this is true, it is a very disturbing development that an armed and illegal organization was involved in influencing the outcome of the leadership race of the largest trade union party and a government party.
“This represents an attempt to overthrow the democratic process and it is totally unacceptable. Armed groups have no place in society and certainly not in government affairs,” he said.
It is understood that there were “frank discussions” during last night’s two-hour meeting over how outgoing leader Arlene Foster was “ousted” from her senior office by some party members.
Mr Donaldson left the meeting before Mr Poot gave his first keynote speech, as did Ms Foster, Gavin Robinson, Gregory Campbell and Nigel and Diane Dodds.
This article was updated on May 28, 2021