'Cowards' | 

Victims campaigner Raymond McCord says loyalists 'don't have the balls' to protest in Dublin

Campaigner calls out LcC chiefs for toe-to-toe debate
Campaigner Raymond McCord in north Belfast yesterday

Campaigner Raymond McCord in north Belfast yesterday

Steven Moore

Victims campaigner Raymond McCord says loyalist leaders "don't have the balls" to protest in Dublin as he slammed those ramping up the threat of violence as "cowards".

And he's called out Loyalist Communities Council chair David Campbell and protester Jamie Bryson - challenging them to go "toe-to-toe" with him in a debate about the Protocol issue.

McCord, who has campaigned for justice ever since his son Raymond Jr was brutally murdered by the UVF in 1997, says unelected people like Campbell are not representative of the unionist people.

"These people ramping up threats of violence are cowards because they won't be on the streets - it'll be young unionists and loyalists that get dragged in to do the dirty work and end up with criminal records," said a furious McCord yesterday.

"I know there are issues with the Protocol that need resolved but I don't want to see a whole new generation of Protestants ending up with criminal records for getting themselves caught up in rioting.

"Honestly I'm fed up listening to these people claiming to represent the unionist community and telling lies about the Protocol and blaming politicians in Dublin.

"But me and my family never needed a mob to put our point across when we had to, we didn't call people onto the street and I think those who do are rabble-rousing cowards."

LLC members

LLC members

The LCC and Jamie Bryson have repeatedly stated they are only calling for peaceful protests but earlier this week Mr Bryson said he believed peaceful protests in Dublin could cause "instability" in the Republic.

The LCC represents the UDA, UVF and the Red Hand Commando and there has been criticism that the government had met with them as those paramilitary groups remain involved in criminality.

Yesterday Justice Minister Naomi Long called for the British government to stop engaging with the LCC after they stated that "Irish ministers and officials were not welcome in Northern Ireland".

This comes after representatives from the LCC recently appeared before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, with 19-year-old member Joel Keys coming under fire for suggesting he wouldn't rule violence "off the table" around loyalist tension over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

On Friday several hundred loyalists attended a protest in Newtownards where a group of men stood in front of the stage holding a banner with photos of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and UVF gunship the Clyde Valley with the message, 'Dublin's Choice: Peace or Protocol'.

This comes after loyalists have said they were planning to protest in Dublin next month though gardaí said last night they weren't aware of any such plans.

Raymond McCord says talk of a loyalist protest in Dublin is "nonsense".

"David Campbell has still not learnt that the unelected LCC does not represent the vast majority opinion of unionists," says McCord.

"He sits with gangster paramilitary representatives and has the audacity to say that politicians from Dublin aren't welcome in Northern Ireland, following on from the LCC's veiled threats of potential violence.

"This armchair general is an embarrassment to the unionist community.

"People like Campbell don't have the balls to go to Dublin, I don't believe the talk of a protest there is genuine.

"But if they do go ahead with it is David Campbell and Jamie Bryson going to be at the front of it?

"Would someone ask them who signed the Protocol on behalf of Northern Ireland and get them to tell the truth?

"It was Boris Johnson, not a Dublin politician. I'd say to David Campbell to take a bit of advice from someone who knows what fighting is like - stay silent, stop fear mongering and grow a pair, instead of trying to cause more trouble with your rabble-rousing.

"I am publicly offering David Campbell and Jamie Bryson to meet with me and we can go toe-to-toe in a debate about the Protocol - let's do it."

Riots in Dublin during the Love Ulster protest in 2006

Riots in Dublin during the Love Ulster protest in 2006

Mr McCord slammed the LCC for failing to truly represent the unionist working-class communities who have suffered at the hands of paramilitaries.

"The Protocol hasn't killed one unionist unlike the organisations who David Campbell willingly sits with," he said.

"Yet the UVF - one of the groups the LCC represents - has murdered 32 Protestants since the ceasefire. Why has the LCC not held protests against the paramilitaries of West Belfast UDA and East Belfast UVF who have tortured the unionist communities for years with drug dealing, extortion rackets, punishment beatings and murders?

"They've never had anything to say about that. Instead you get loyalist leaders calling the UVF 'patriots'. Patriots who murdered 32 unionists. That's 32 Protestant families who deserve justice."

And he said the British government should never have met the LCC.

"Why is the government meeting with these people? It's 23 years since the Good Friday Agreement and these paramilitaries are still holding their cap out for even more money."

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