The Northern Ireland Justice Minister, Naomi Long of the Alliance Party, has expressed concern over the DUP meeting with a group representing loyalist paramilitaries to discuss opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
DUP leader Arlene Foster, deputy leader Nigel Dodds and East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson met on Thursday with the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC).
The group is an umbrella organisation representing the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando.
Mrs Foster defended the meeting, saying it was "important that all communities have a voice in the political process".
But Justice Minister Naomi Long responded: "Proscribed terrorist organisations are not a legitimate part of our community. They aren't stakeholders to be consulted."
"They are a malignant force destroying our community. Our job as ministers is to eradicate paramilitarism, not give them a platform or legitimacy," the Alliance Party leader said on Twitter.
Loyalists have voiced anger over Northern Ireland's post-Brexit arrangements under the protocol, which ensures an open border with the Republic of Ireland but means extra checks and processes on trade from Britain.
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