Nigel Farage supports Loyalist Community Council project
UKIP leader Nigel Farage is fully behind a new loyalist initiative set to be unveiled today by MLA David McNarry in a Belfast hotel.
Mr McNarry told the Belfast Telegraph that party leader Mr Farage had been kept fully briefed during the 18 months of negotiations with paramilitary groups to create the new Loyalist Community Council .
"Mr Farage has been kept fully appraised of the initiative and has given his support," Mr McNarry said.
The Loyalist Community Council is being established with the support of the UDA, the UVF and the Red Hand Commando.
The project also involves Tony Blair's former Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell, solicitor Richard Monteith, former UUP chairman David Campbell, and Mr McNarry himself. All four will attend today's launch.
Describing himself as "a loyalist, but not a paramilitary loyalist" the sole Ukip MLA said that there were three core elements that the new group will deal with: education, criminality, and the political process.
Mr McNarry declined to give any further details of the initiative. But he said: "I have been able to bring the three main loyalist paramilitary groups together, and that's a sign of strength.
"It's a sign of cohesion within them and where they want to go, because they all need to do this together.
"From that all sorts of things can spring. But let us not raise expectation, or lower it. That's where they are starting from. Let's see how they get on from that point."
He denied that the initiative was all about more money for loyalist communities and organisations.
"The strength that I have found in working with them in this initiative is that this is going ahead without funding," the MLA said.
"There is no money on the table, yet the initiative is being launched. They are putting themselves out there in the cockpit of public opinion and they are driving this forward without any money."
Mr McNarry also told reporters: "If former IRA paramilitaries are able to shake hands with the Queen, there is hope for the loyalists yet."