JACKIE McDonald’s comments on the Twelfth being the worst day of his year have sparked a wave of anger within the loyalist community.
Yesterday, members of the Ulster Political Research Group – of which Mr McDonald is also a member – issued a stinging response to the comments made by the UDA leader.
Without mentioning his name, the loyalist organisation’s west Belfast branch said they had been “inundated” with complaints over “the disgraceful personal comments made by a member of our south Belfast branch”.
“The member’s statement that the Twelfth is his worst day of the year is, in his opinion, based on drunkenness and does not equate to the events including the tireless endeavours of the marshals at Ardoyne and in east Belfast and further afield and is considered by us as totally reprehensible,” the statement said.
“To collectively group these men with drunken fights is totally unwarranted and deceitful.”
The UPRG said its members had given up their own time to protect their community and culture.
“As a consequence this individual would appear to be totally out of step with the overwhelming thinking of the majority of the wider loyalist family.
“It is offensive to these community members to be labelled by someone who should know better than to stigmatise sections within the wider loyalist community.”
They also said Mr McDonald was “totally unqualified to pass comment” as he was not from the area.
Last night, sources from within the UDA in north Antrim also spoke out against their leader.
They said they wished to “totally disassociate themselves from the statement made by Jackie McDonald”.
Mr McDonald also provoked anger when he suggested in the same interview that the Orange parade past the Ardoyne shops should be one-way only.
He said: “There’s nothing wrong with the outward parade, but it’s the way the hangers-on, the blue-bag brigade, spend four to five hours drinking before going home when the trouble kicks off.”
But on Monday, Winston Irvine from the North and West Belfast Parades and Cultural Forum, hit back saying: “I think he is completely wrong in what he said about making the parade one-way ... he has been totally irresponsible.”