The Parades Commission has said it will allow a loyalist band commemorating a unionist paramilitary killer to parade past the scene where one of his victims was killed.
Patrick McKenna was shot dead by UVF gunman Brian Robinson outside Ardoyne shops in north Belfast in September 1989.
In a statement yesterday the Parades Commission confirmed that the Shankill Star band, whose logo carries the UVF man’s name, would be allowed to take part in a sectarian parade past Ardoyne shops next Saturday morning.
The commission said it had taken into account strong opposition expressed by nationalist residents, Sinn Fein and the SDLP to the decision to allow a band identified with the UVF killer to pass the scene.
It said it had held talks with the North and West Belfast Parades Forum which told the commission the band had been chosen to take part because of its ‘excellent musicianship’ -- although the band has been told by the Commission it should only play a single drumbeat.
The murder victim’s nephew Gerard McKenna said his family were “devastated” by the decision.
“This is a band which openly glorifies the man who shot my uncle dead in the street for no other reason than he was a Catholic,” he said.
“I told the Parades Commission what effect it would have on my family if they let this ‘Brian Robinson tribute band’ parade past the spot where he killed my uncle.”
Mr McKenna questioned why the loyalist band was only now being included in the parade for the first time.
“There are at least three other flute bands in Ballysillan which they could use but they have chosen a band which commemorates the man who murdered a Catholic from Ardoyne,” he said.
He said the comment on the band’s musicianship was “a sick joke”
“It feels as if the Parades Commission has slapped us in the face.”
Nationalist residents are expected to hold a protest.