Newtownabbey Councillor Tom Campbell said: “It is sickening that loyalist paramilitaries are gaining funding from the government. Taxpayers are disgusted to find out that the government is using their money to essentially bribe the UDA to stop its campaign of terror.
“Today’s conference unfortunately gives credibility to the representatives of loyalist paramilitaries. These people do not represent communities. If they want to speak on behalf of people, they should seek election. Until then their voice means nothing.
“The message that local people are sending out is loud and clear. They believe that paramilitaries should not be given cash and they also believe that such groups must stand down and disband now.
“The UDA has tortured the people and businesses in Northern Ireland with its intimidation, racketeering and drug dealing. People are still in shock that the government has chosen to reward their bad behaviour with cash handouts.”