In a sign of the changing times former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and veteran loyalist Gusty Spence have met — at Spence’s Groomsport home, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
The meeting has been confirmed by a reliable source, but former UVF leader Mr Spence has refused to comment on what has been described as “a private discussion”.
It is understood the meeting was arranged through a third party and is linked to the planned publication of a book.
Spence played a crucial background role helping draft documents outlining policy positions in the build-up to the 1994 Combined Loyalist Military Command ceasefire — in a period when Mr Reynolds was Taoiseach.
The two have met previously.
According to a source, yesterday’s meeting was to discuss and confirm some details.
Spence has been in the news recently with his challenge to loyalists to decommission their arms.
He criticised part of the UVF endgame statement of last year, which said weapons had been put “beyond reach” and General de Chastelain informed.
Spence said that meant “nothing” — and challenged the loyalist leadership: “Why not take the ultimate step?”
Yesterday’s meeting is not linked to that intervention.