Jackie McDonald, leader dell’UDA, ha dichiarato che il fatto di detenere il passaporto irlandese non costituisce un problema. Ricorda infatti che il passaporto irlandese si e’ reso necessario per poter viaggiare negli Stati Uniti in occasione del Rangers FC. Alla luce del suo passato, gli sarebbe stato difficile poter entrare negli USA con un passaporto britannico.
Ad aiutarlo ad ottenere il documento e’ stato il marito della Presidente irlandese Mary McAleese. Amicizia quella tra McDonald e la McAleese, non vista molto di buon occhio dalla parte lealista, dato che in passato la presidente non ha esistato a paragonare i Protestanti ai Nazisti.
McDonald assicura comunque che l’essere titolare di un passaporto irlandese non ha nulla a che spartire con il suo credo lealista.
Loyalist chief defends having Irish passport
UDA boss Jackie McDonald says he has no problem with being an Irish passport-holder – emphasising that he only applied for the document to make sure he could travel to a Rangers FC event in the United States.
The loyalist leader admits in a new book about Irish president Mary McAleese that, six years ago, her husband Martin pulled a few strings for him to get a passport via Dublin so that he could visit America.
The unusual friendship between McDonald and the McAleeses, who are avowed nationalists, has raised eyebrows before – the Belfast man and loyalist friends have gone on golfing trips in the south and had dinner at the Aras (the Irish president’s Dublin residence).
For many unionists and loyalists, proud of their British heritage and identity, an Irish passport would be a step too far.
Mr McDonald, however, yesterday told the News Letter his Britishness was in no way diluted by what was a bureaucratic detail and nothing else.
“I have had busloads of people from loyalist communities down to the Áras and have a good relationship with the McAleeses,” he said.
“The conversations and communication we have with them is not going to dilute what we believe as loyalists, in the same way our loyalism will not dilute any aspirations they have in any way.
“I have been taking some stick today about the passport but again it doesn’t affect my loyalism.
“What happened was that I was wanting to travel to a Rangers (supporters] convention in America, in Houston. This is six years ago.
“I was told that with my background, travelling on a British passport I had no chance of getting into the country but someone said I should try getting an Irish one because I would have less bother for a number of different reasons.
“I didn’t think twice about it – there are lots of my friends who have Irish passports. But time was tight and Martin helped me out to fast-track it. That’s it.
“Funny thing is, though, I never used it. I was ill and couldn’t travel.
“But I have still been getting plenty of stick about it now.”
In a new biography First Citizen: Mary McAleese and the Irish Presidency, the UDA chief says of the relationship with the McAleeses that he hopes they will be “friends forever”.
At his first meeting with Mrs McAleese, he reveals he presented her with champagne, a bunch of flowers, a box of chocolates and an Ulster flag – as well as a Rangers scarf for her father.
Later he gave her a rose bush and said, “I hope it blossoms like our friendships”.
That friendship is all the more surprising given that to many unionists Mrs McAleese is not a popular figure, having on occasions expressed her nationalism with remarks such as those which compared Protestants to the Nazis.
But Mr McDonald said: “I have taken the McAleeses as I have found them. They have been warm and welcoming and instead of looking at what divides us, we chose to look at the relationship and ask ourselves, ‘What can we achieve here?’.
“I didn’t want to look back in 10 years’ time and say to myself, ‘Nothing has changed, I could have achieved something there’ and just walked away. It’s an opportunity to build bridges. But it will never threaten my Britishness.”