Loyalist leader Jackie McDonald declares support for Arlene Foster's leadership
LOYALIST leader Jackie McDonald has urged voters to get behind DUP leader Arlene Foster saying her "experience and dedication has helped bring about stability and prosperity" to Northern Ireland.
The most prominent figure in the UDA described the DUP leader as "a first-class politician".
His comments are carried in The Loyalist magazine.
McDonald said he believes Sinn Féin pulled the plug on the devolved institutions, not because of the Renewable Heat Incentive fiasco, but because of the withdrawal of the £50,000 Líofa scholarship by DUP Communities minister Paul Given.
"The problem is that my views or opinions regarding this recent scandal are neither here nor there.
"Whatever, the outcome may or may not be is a matter for others to decide, but I honestly believe Stormont and the Executive need Arlene Foster to remain as part of our political infrastructure", he said.
"The DUP have decided to stand by their leader and she is defending her position, that’s it as far as I’m concerned.
"Who within any of the so called 'Unionist parties' has proved themselves more capable in extremely difficult situations in recent years?
"Who hasn’t made mistakes in recent times, be it individually or as a political party?" he said.
"It is all too easy to sit back and criticise and to find fault with those with the authority and/or courage to make difficult decisions."
The south Belfast loyalist also defended former DUP speaker Robin Newton, himself under fire for a decision to permit Mrs Foster to address the assembly in December after Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness withdrew his support for her statement.
Mr Newton was also criticised for refusing assembly questions about funding to UDA-linked community group Charter NI, despite a conflict of interest having a previous close association with the organisation.
"Robin Newton found himself in a very difficult situation and he had the courage to make the decision that he made and now enemies of the DUP are trying to use his position to help undermine that of the former First Minister," he said.
"There was justification for a judicial enquiry into RHI, it should still take place, but there is no justification, or need, to have this election.
"The behaviour of some of our political representatives show a complete disregard for those
who voted for them and a high degree of selfishness", he added.