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Put the country first and do a deal, top loyalist urges

A senior leader in the loyalist “war” has challenged the DUP to make the deal on policing and justice — and to “put country first”.

Winston ‘Winkie’ Rea, a former Red Hand Commando prisoner and son-in-law of veteran UVF leader Gusty Spence, warned of the consequences of failure in the current talks.

He said it would mean an election and a republican First Minister.

“Sinn Fein is not bluffing,” he told the Belfast Telegraph, “and if the DUP fail to devolve policing and justice to Stormont, they are making a big mistake.”

Rea played important leadership roles in the 1994 Combined Loyalist Military Command ceasefire and, more recently, in the loyalist decommissioning process.

“I think they (the DUP) should do the deal because it is the right thing to do,” Rea told this newspaper yesterday. “I feel it’s the last piece of the jigsaw and if they do it, it will go a long way to help stabilise things all round.”

Rea then addressed the question of community confidence.

“I would like them (the DUP) to spell out more clearly what they mean about community confidence, because I detect that confidence is there.”

Belfast Telegraph