PSNI probe | 

Loyalist preacher probed over 'rats' who should be dealt with by 'rifle and grenade' comments

"The recent video that I posted was only intended for a private group and was accidentally made public", Pastor Halliday said.

Mark Bain

A controversial loyalist preacher will be interviewed by police after he moved to clarify comments made in an online video in which he speaks about “rats” who should be dealt with by “the rifle and grenade”.

Pastor Barrie Halliday said the video was “accidentally” made public and had not been intended for a wider audience. It was one of three recorded for a unionist discussion group, he said, adding the comments had been taken ‘out of context’.

The PSNI confirmed it had received a complaint about the video, posted a day after the Orange Order paraded in Belfast to celebrate the centenary of Northern Ireland, and that an investigation was ongoing.

Pastor Halliday has been requested to attend Ardmore Police Station on Thursday.

In the video, the Markethill preacher, a friend of the late loyalist Willie Frazer, is heard saying: “The rats were in the foundation and there’s only one way to deal with rats. It’s not to feed them, it’s not to give them a house, it’s not to give them a feel-good factor of power.

"The only way... is to go in with the rifle and the grenade and get rid of them, every last one including the young upstarts.”

Controversy: Pastor Barrie Halliday. Picture: Niall Carson/PA

Pastor Halliday said his comments were referring to the terrorist threat of years ago.

But the video has been circulated online in the wake of public disgust over another video of loyalists singing an offensive song about the murder of Michaela McAreavey — the daughter of former Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte — who was killed while on honeymoon in Mauritius 11 years ago.

“The recent video that I posted was only intended for a private group and was accidentally made public,” Pastor Halliday said.

“The video was not intended to be publicly distributed. I only became aware that it was made public when I was informed by certain individuals.

“And, just to clarify, the context of the video was that I was referring to the republican terrorist threat to our country 30 to 40 years ago and I was not referring to the present time.”

Pastor Halliday said that three videos were made for a discussion group on where unionism stands.

“Whether we like it or not, unionism is part of all our history, just as Martin McGuinness is part of republican history, whether we like him or not,” he added.

“I suppose the timing of this being posted online hasn’t helped with the issues over other videos at present, but once I was made aware it had been made public, it was taken down immediately. This was never meant for public airing.”

Pastor Halliday caused controversy in 2020 over comments in an online video in which he appeared to call for Black Lives Matter campaigners to be “sent home in a boat” provoked a string of complaints.

In another video, from February 2020, and posted a few hours after the death of former Stormont deputy first minister Seamus Mallon of the SDLP, whom he referenced as a great supporter of Gaelic sports, Pastor Halliday branded the GAA “Fenian, dark and hellish”.

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