Loyalist organisations have ‘dearth of political analysis’

LCC members (from left) David Campbell, Jim Wilson, Jackie McDonald and Winston Irvine

LCC members (from left) David Campbell, Jim Wilson, Jackie McDonald and Winston Irvine

Alliance has branded a loyalist grouping’s political analysis “absurd” after the LCC called on unionists to reject the party’s attempt to “undermine the Britishness of Northern Ireland”.

An Alliance spokesman said a statement released by the Loyalist Communities Council umbrella group – which is backed by the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando – shows the “dearth of political analysis within loyalist paramilitaries at this time.”

The LCC was set up in 2015 to “play a meaningful role in connecting loyalism to civic society” as well as working to “grow confidence within detached loyalist communities in Protestant areas”.

The pre-election statement said the LCC “particularly warns all unionists and loyalists against voting for Alliance Party candidates.”

It adds: “Many unionists think they can retain their unionism yet vote for Alliance candidates. They are sorely mistaken in that belief. No party does more to undermine the Britishness of Northern Ireland, and foment community mistrust and division than the Alliance Party. Any unionist who votes for the Alliance Party is driving a nail into the coffin of the Union.”

Commenting on the limited use of agreed unionist candidates in a small number of seats, the LCC said it “deplores the unwillingness of the main unionist parties to co-operate to maximise unionist representation at Westminster,” and added: “In constituencies where there is a risk of losing a seat to republicans, we ask that unionists vote for the unionist candidate most likely to win that seat.”

The statement indentified Fermanagh/South Tyrone along with North, South and East Belfast as key constituencies for the unionist electorate.

The most recent edition of the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group’s magazine The Loyalist also urged its readers to vote for Emma Pengelly in South Belfast.

Responding to the latest statement, the Alliance spokesman said it “highlights clearly which parties are really willing to take on and challenge paramilitaries, and which are happier to chase and foster their support,” and added: “It is now incumbent on those named and their parties to make clear whether they welcome this endorsement from paramilitary groups, including those still actively engaged in terrorism and criminality, or whether they reject it and repudiate the organisations behind it.”