There has been outrage over a sectarian incident at a branch of the Asda chain stores in north Belfast after the shop employee in question, a double sectarian killer, was reinstated in his post.
Last week William Charles Hunter, a checkout operator, was sacked for asking a delivery driver at the store to play ‘The Sash’ on his van radio.
He made his remark around the Twelfth of July period. The tune is associated with the Protestant Orange Order, is often played by loyalists to intimidate Catholics and demarcate territory.
The Asda shop in question is used by members of both communities. After a Catholic customer heard who heard Hunter’s call complained to the store management, Hunter was removed from his post.
It has also emerged that Catholic employees at the store have suffer intimidation and the threat of violence since the story broke.
However, a sudden u-turn by Asda management prompted a scandal after it emerged that Hunter was responsible for the murders two Catholic brothers, John and Thomas McErlane, 35 years ago.
Hunter shot the two brothers after luring them to a flat on the Mount Vernon estate to play cards with work colleagues in 1975.
The family of the two brothers who died has now sought a meeting with senior management of the supermarket chain.
“No one is saying that people who have served time in prison shouldn’t be allowed to work,” said the brother of the two men who died, Gerard.
“But in this case it is quite clear that this man has not changed his sectarian views one iota since he murdered my brothers.”
“I am very concerned that Catholic workers have been threatened and that they don’t feel safe working there.
“l feel that Asda has a responsibility to promote a non-sectarian workplace and that people should be allowed to work free from intimidation and harassment.”
A number of other employees of Asda said they had been threatened and intimidated during a loyalist four-day protest at the store.
One Catholic employee, who was too frightened to be named, said yesterday: “It was very, very frightening.
“They shouted at us and told us they knew our car registrations and where we lived.
“The store was practically empty during the protests because people were too frightened to come into the shop in case their car was attacked.
“The intimidation was so bad that a private security firm was brought in after some members of management were threatened.~
The employee said that morale at the north Belfast store was at “rock bottom” and that some Catholic workers were considering leaving or asking to be transferred to another store.
~What annoys us most is that management doesn’t seem to be taking this intimidation seriously,” the worker said .
“People don’t know what’s going to happen next.”