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FEARS are mounting for the Northern Ireland peace process following the Tories' deal with the DUP.

It came as fresh revelations emerged about the hardline unionist party and their links with paramilitary organisations.

They include connections with a group who organised an illegal shipment of arms into Northern Ireland.

DUP leader Arlene Foster last year refused to back calls to sack alleged loyalist group boss Dee Stitt as head of a publiclyfunded charity.

Prime Minister Theresa May will today hold talks with Foster over a confidence and supply arrangement in which her 10 MPs back the Tories on key votes.

But former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain feared the impact of the pact on the power-sharing agreement.

He said: "I am really worried about the sense the Government will be seen as held prisoner by the DUP, rather than being even-handed as you need to be."

He said Northern Ireland's other parties will be asking, "are you genuinely neutral and can we trust you to broker an agreement between all of us when you are dependant on one of them?" Ireland's incoming prime minister Leo Varadkar also raised concerns.

He said: "Our role, here in Dublin and London, is to act as co-guarantors and not to be close to any particular party in the North."

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said: "Any deal which undercuts in any way the process here or the Good Friday and the other agreements is one which has to be opposed by progressives." He said Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire's impartiality had been compromised, meaning he was "not an acceptable chair" in talks to restore power-sharing at Stormont.

Foster insisted the DUP "stood on a clear policy platform" of restoring the powersharing government. But May has faced a backlash for wanting to share power with a party with links to paramilitary groups.

DUP East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson chaired the first meeting of loyalist paramilitaries Ulster Resistance in 1986.

Ex-DUP leaders Rev Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson were pictured at the meeting wearing the organisation's red berets.

The aim of Ulster Resistance, set up by a collection of people who went on to be prominent DUP politicians, was to "take direct action as and when required" to end the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

Intelligence reports last year showed members of Ulster Resistance plotted with other loyalist paramilitaries to import weapons from December 1986.

The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland said two Ulster Resistance fighters at the launch, hosted by the DUP, were key in importing "a large consignment of firearms... to the UK from Beirut in 1987-88".

In his 2012 report into the death of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane, Sir Desmond de Silva stated: "The importation of arms in late 1987 appears to have been a joint project between the UDA, the Ulster Volunteer Force and Ulster Resistance. Members of Ulster Resistance played perhaps the most critical part in the operation."

One of the weapons was used in the Loughinisland Massacre in 1994, when UVF gunmen killed six civilians in a pub as they watched a Republic of Ireland World Cup game.

The DUP insist they cut links with Ulster Resistance in 1987.

The weapons were never decommissioned.

But the Loyalist TALKS Brokenshire Communities Council, linked to the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando, publicly endorsed three DUP candidates - Nigel Dodds, Gavin Robinson and Emma Little-Pengelly - in the election.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said they are "a party of law and order" and do not want "the support of anyone or organisation that continues to be involved in paramilitary or criminal activity".

Yet in her acceptance speech, Little-Pengelly specifically thanked voters in loyalist areas. And Foster has been accused of failing to give a robust rejection of the support of such groups.

She posed for pictures with alleged UDA boss Stitt, who is chief of Charter NI. They run a PS1.7million employment scheme for the Stormont Executive's PS80million Social Investment Fund.

An armed robber who spent time in Maze Prison, in one interview Stitt called prison officers "scumbags" and described beating one with snooker balls.

DUP supporters yesterday called for the reinstatement of banned Orange marches to be part of coalition talks.

Portadown Loyal Orange Lodge said they want the Drumcree March restored.

It was banned 20 years ago as part of the peace process after repeated riots and violence when marchers went down Garvaghy Road in a nationalist area.

Congratulating "fellow Brother" David Simpson on his re-election as MP, the lodge said: "We trust the parading issue, especially in Portadown, will be high on the agenda for the new Government."



TALKS Brokenshire

FLASHPOINT Orange Order's Drumcree march led to violence but they want it back on calendar as part of the DUP's deal

FRIENDS IN LOW PLACES Foster won't sack armed robber Stitt, left, who is the alleged chief of a hardline loyalist group

SUPPLY AND DEMAND May is in talks to get 'confidence and supply' backing from DUP's Foster for Tories
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 13, 2017
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