Northern Ireland news

Loyalist Communities Council chair defends protocol comments

David Campbell, chairman of the Loyalist Communities Council. Picture by Mal McCann

THE chairman of the Loyalist Communities Council has said the DUP needs to "read the public mood" and learn from mistakes made by the Ulster Unionists in the past.

David Campbell has come under criticism over comments he made regarding unionist anger at the Northern Ireland Protocol.

When asked were the days of loyalist fighting over, Mr Campbell said he "hoped so" but added “we live in an imperfect society and one fights in different ways”.

An ex-chairman of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) who served as an advisor to former party leader David Trimble, he also told the BBC: "If it comes to the bit where we have to fight physically to maintain our freedoms within the UK, so be it."

The LCC umbrella group is supported by members of the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando.

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Speaking to The Irish News, Mr Campbell claimed those criticising his comments had used "selective editing" in relation to what he said about fighting physically.

"I said that in the context of fighting against freedoms being removed by a tyrant like Adolf Hitler or Stalin, certainly not in reference to Brexit.

"That has to be a political fight, a fight based on common sense".

However, Mr Campbell claimed there was a lack of wider understanding at the levels of unionist anger at the Northern Ireland Protocol and so-called sea border.

"The texts and and calls I have received from people saying 'you are right and that's largely how we feel' are from former UUP colleagues. People including my 82-year-old mother and other people's parents have said the same, they are unhappy at how this is playing out.

"And so my key point would be, there is no place for violent activity, it has to be down to leadership, from the DUP in particular, because if the protocol isn't improved upon how can they continue?

"The pressure from the ground up will become too great and the first minister's position will be untenable."

Mr Campbell said the rise of the DUP at the expense of the UUP following the peace agreement in 1998 was due to a "tipping point" in unionist opinion.

"I can see similarities and if they (DUP) don't learn from our mistakes they await the same fate. Whether my old party can step up I don't know," he added.

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