UDA leader Jackie McDonald has been in talks with DUP First Minister Peter Robinson and Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt to try to end the ongoing flag-related protests, UTV can reveal.
Demonstrations have been held across Northern Ireland for 11 nights running, ever since a motion was passed to restrict the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Hall to designated days.
"As I said to Peter Robinson and Mike Nesbitt, you can't tell the protestors anything - you have to ask them," Mr McDonald told UTV.
"You have to speak to them; you have to listen to them. We have to have dialogue with them, because they are angry."
While numerous peaceful protests have been held by loyalists, a number of areas have been subjected to violence and traffic disruptions when demonstrations resulted in blocked roads.
Concerns have also been expressed about the economic impact, particularly so close to Christmas.
Mr McDonald says that he supports the protests 100%, but that he condemns any violence and also feels for the traders in Belfast who have been affected by disruption.
The UDA leader told UTV that one proposal being discussed is the setting up of a joint unionist-loyalist group or taskforce to find an agreed way forward.
"One taskforce might not be enough," Mr McDonald added.
"It has to be widespread and it has to be all inclusive, where nobody feels left out."
Mr McDonald met with the DUP leader on Monday, with MLA Nelson McCausland also present, before further talks also involving the UUP leader were held at Stormont Castle on Wednesday night.
UDA in talks to end flag protests - UTV Live News
Three questions for people to think about:
One, why are the UDA and other loyalist paramilitary gangs treated as if they were political parties?
Two, why are their self-described leaders not being brought to Maghaberry prison in handcuffs?
Three, why are the DUP and Ulster Unionists even opening negotiations with the UDA if they (as they are claiming tonight) are not directing the protests?