Justice Minister Naomi Long urges UK government to stop engaging with LCC
The Minister for JUSTICE last night urged the British government to stop engaging with the group which claims to represent loyalist paramilitary elements.
Naomi Long made the appeal after the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) said “Irish ministers and civil servants are not welcome in Northern Ireland”.
The Alliance leader said the LCC, which claims to represent the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando, should be treated by the British government “like any other group issuing veiled threats.”
She said Stormont’s parties should also end their engagement with the coordination group, whose spokesperson is former Unionist president of Ulster, David Campbell.
“It is not for the LCC or anyone else to dictate who is and who is not welcome here – they do not speak for anyone other than loyalist paramilitaries,” Ms. Long to The Irish News.
“Treating the LCC as a legitimate organization when it is a coordinating group for those who claim to speak on behalf of illegal terrorist gangs and organized crime has gone on long enough.”
She said the UK government should stop treating LCCs as “stakeholders”.
SDLP MP Matthew O’Toole said the loyalist coordination group “does not speak for Northern Ireland”.
“In fact, it is not clear who they are speaking for, other than themselves and the illegal organizations they represent,” he said.
“Those horrible words should still give those who platform and normalize their speech a pause.”
In a broad statement, the LCC criticized the governments of Dublin and London, saying the latter risked “significant political and community instability” with its pledge this week to legislate on the Irish language if Stormont blocks the process.
Referring to recent illegal protests against the Northern Ireland Protocol, the statement said that “the continued denials and insulting comments by the Irish government prove how much they have misled the European leader”.
He said ministers and officials of the Republic were no longer welcome north of the border.
The LCC urged the next DUP chief to stop the “constant flow of concessions to Sinn Féin”, even if it means suspending decentralization.
In March, Secretary of State Brandon Lewis defended a meeting between his officials and the LCC, saying it was “quite right” to engage with groups “against violence and pro democracy” .
The LCC was launched in 2015 with the support of former Downing Street chief of staff Jonathan Powell.