LEADING LOYALIST WAS MASCOT FOR NORTHERN IRELAND SIDE JUST WEEKS BEFORE FLAG PROTESTS
FLAGS protest organiser Jamie Bryson was a mascot at a Northern Ireland football match just weeks before he emerged as a loyalist leader The Ulster People’s Forum chairman was ‘ Footie ‘ the mascot for the World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan in November. Mr Bryson paraded round Windsor Park wearing a huge football shaped head and oversized boots as he high-fived players and waved to fans. The mascot is often used by the Irish Football Association (IFA) for public relations events including helping to promote its cross-community Football for All campaign. However, the IFA yesterday dismissed any connection between Mr Bryson and its cross-community work. A spokesman said : ” The regular mascot was unavailable for the game and his replacement took unwell on the afternoon of the game and Mr Bryson stood in at the last minute. ” This was a one-off. ” Mr Bryson is not involved in, or has ever been involved in any of the association’s community relations projects.”
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Mr Bryson once told a court he could not plea to a charge of possessing a weapon because he was ‘ innocent under God’s law ‘. He was convicted 12 months ago of being in possession of an extendible bat which he claimed was for protection from drug dealers and criminal gangs. He received a four month suspended sentence after delivering a letter to the judge saying he could not enter a plea because he believed he had the right under God’s law to defend himself if attacked and would not have hesitated in using the weapon.
The former north Down community worker said that although he believed he was innocent in God‘s eyes he understood that the judiciary would have a different opinion. Police found the flick baton in Mr Bryson’s car when they stopped him in Groomsport, Co Down, in October 2011.