Loyalist delegation is U.S. bound

[caption id="attachment_67085" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Joe Doherty and Jackie McDonald."]


A delegation of leading Northern Ireland loyalists is packing its bags for a U.S. visit early next month, this after being granted special visas.

The group, with links to the Ulster Defense Association, has applied for permission to travel. Among them is UDA leader Jackie McDonald, the Irish Independent reported.

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the report stated that the loyalists had developed a "a working relationship" with Senator Martin McAleese, the husband of President Mary McAleese.

The Republic's Department of Foreign Affairs had been consulted about the visas.

The loyalists are expected to attend to attend political and business briefings in New York and Washington while among the politicians expected to meet them are Reps. Peter King and Richie Neal, current and former chairs respectively of the Friends of Ireland in Congress.

The loyalists among the guests at one of the ceremonies during the state visit by Queen Elizabeth to the Republic in May.

Mr. McDonald, who has formed a friendship and working partnership in Belfast with former IRA man and longtime "guest" of the American nation, Joe Doherty, also attended the funeral of Catholic policeman Ronan Kerr, who was killed by dissident republicans in April.