Doug Beattie: I have insane loyalists but I do not accept that loyalty is synonymous with paramilitarism – the dispute with the LCC continues
In an interview with the BBC on Tuesday, Mr Beattie said he would not follow the advice of the Council of Loyalist Communities (LCC), which includes representatives of the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando .
Mr Beattie said: ‘If I meet with the Council of Loyalist Communities the first thing I will ask them is when they are going to disband and when they will leave the people alone and get rid of the foot of the people in Northern Ireland. . “
He added: “Let’s not spoil all loyalty as paramilitary groups. There is no place in our society today for any paramilitary group. If they’re here, they have to go.
However, LCC President David Campbell responded that he was “astonished” to hear comments from Mr. Beattie, who he said had disparaged the LCC even before being elected leader, and by implication had also criticized the work the LCC has done to “transform loyalist organizations and promote the need for economic and educational initiatives in loyalist communities”.
Mr. Campbell, former president of the UUP, added: “How will he explain to the members of the party his strategy to regain the confidence of the Unionist electorate at large when he begins his campaign by at least alienating himself? a third of this electorate?
“I would ask Mr Beattie to reflect on his comments and reach out to support loyalist trade unionists rather than repeat the anti-loyalist rhetoric we expect from the Alliance and Sinn Fein.”
Mr Beattie told the News Letter he was aware of the LCC’s response “and that my comments alienated the loyalists”.
“So I ask this. What statement are they upset with, do I want the paramilitaries involved in drug trafficking, crime and coercion to dissolve and leave the scene or are they angry with me saying that loyalty must not be not be seen through the prism of paramilitarism?
He said loyalists are among the most “socially liberal and forward-thinking” people in society.
“I am happy to talk to anyone and I will have frank conversations, they will start with the question of when are the paramilitary groups going to dissolve.” But this characterization that loyalty equates to paramilitarism is something I will always reject.
In turn, Mr Campbell told the News Letter he was having a hard time understanding what Mr Beattie was trying to say.
“The LCC aims to give a voice to loyalist communities who feel ignored and to help groups break out of paramilitarism,” he said.
“His labeling of an entire community as criminals and drug dealers is false and deeply offensive. This is what we expect from the Alliance and Sinn Fein and not from other trade unionists. I would have thought that Mr. Beattie should applaud this work rather than asking it to stop.
Meanwhile, the BBC reported today that UK Brexit Minister Lord Frost met the LCC – and other groups – during his visit to Northern Ireland earlier this week.
The LCC delegation included representatives of paramilitary groups.
Following his trip, he said it was difficult to see the Irish Sea border in its current form last long.
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