Northern Ireland news

Loyalist leader Jackie McDonald says he voted remain over concerns for the union

Loyalist leader Jackie McDonald has said he voted remain in the referendum.

Loyalist leader Jackie McDonald has said he voted to remain during the Brexit referendum because he could foresee the future problems it would cause for the union.

Writing in the 'Loyalist' magazine, McDonald said that he had voted to stay in the EU "Because I realised there would be problems with the border issue".

"I believe in democracy and I've accepted what the majority of the British public decided and that was to leave", he said.

"I do also believe though that all politicians should have been more open and should have explained exactly what Brexit possibly meant ... the discussions and debates that are splitting the electorate now could have and should have taken place before the referendum", he added.

While the DUP and the majority or loyalist spokespeople continue to back Brexit, McDonald said the "possible problem for those of us who wished to remain British is that more and more people on the mainland are getting fed up with the border situation here and are seeing it as the only hinderance to a clean break from the European Union".

Loyalists, including the leadership of a number of paramilitary factions including the UDA and UVF have taken part in a number of meetings across Northern Ireland aimed at resisting the implementation of a sea border in the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

However, McDonald, widely believed to be the leader of the south Belfast UDA, has been notably absent from the meetings.

Writing in the loyalist newsletter he has urged people to remain calm during the ongoing negotiations.

"I believe that our political representatives in Westminster should do their very best to explain to the electorate here in as much detail as possible what the final outcome is going to be.

"I also believe that we should give them every chance to do so as I’m sure we can all appreciate how difficult the Brexit negotiations are proving to be.

"There won't be any simple explanations as not everyone will be happy.

"We've never been in this situation before the MPs in Westminster don't know themselves what the best way forward is, so let us all take time to reflect and to listen to those who make those final decisions", he added.

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