Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist Jackie McDonald voted to Remain in EU referendum

Jackie McDonald
Jackie McDonald

Alleged UDA leader Jackie McDonald has revealed he voted to remain in the Brexit referendum because he realised "there would be problems with the border issue".

The news comes amid a series of meetings among loyalists across Northern Ireland regarding Boris Johnson's Brexit deal, which they say is a doorway to an "economic united Ireland".

Some of those meetings have been attended by reported senior members of rival loyalist paramilitaries, including the UDA and UVF.

Writing in the Loyalist magazine, Jackie McDonald said that, while he voted to remain, "I believe in democracy and I've accepted what the majority of the British public decided and that was to leave".

"I do also believe though that all politicians should have been more open and should have explained exactly what Brexit possibly meant... the discussions and debates that are splitting the electorate now could have and should have taken place before the referendum," he added.

The admission comes after it was alleged last month that DUP leader Arlene Foster met with reported senior UDA figures to discuss Brexit.

In a series of tweets, journalist Brian Rowan alleged that Mrs Foster, along with other senior DUP colleagues, met with Jimmy Birch, Matt Kincaid and Jackie McDonald.

It was also alleged Mrs Foster attended a separate meeting where senior UVF figures were present.

Mr McDonald said that one problem that could arise as a result of Brexit is that, "for those of us who wished to remain British", an increasing number of people elsewhere in the UK are "getting fed up with the border situation here and are seeing it as the only hindrance to a clean break from the European Union".

"I believe that our political representatives in Westminster should do their very best to explain to the electorate here in as much detail as possible what the final outcome is going to be," he added.

"I also believe that we should give them every chance to do so as I’m sure we can all appreciate how difficult the Brexit negotiations are proving to be.

"There won't be any simple explanations as not everyone will be happy.

"We've never been in this situation before the MPs in Westminster don't know themselves what the best way forward is, so let us all take time to reflect and to listen to those who make those final decisions."

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