A blind eye turned to loyalist paramilitarism

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The lack of condemnation of a loyalist paramilitary parade held in tribute to a sectarian killer speaks volumes about the current double standards in the north of Ireland.

Last weekend, around 30 ‘kick-the-Pope’ bands marched through the Shankill area of the city for an annual parade dedicated to loyalist gunman Brian Robinson.

Robinson was shot dead by a British soldier in September 1989, shortly after murdering innocent 43-year-old Catholic Paddy McKenna on the Crumlin Road.

Mr McKenna had been walking close to the Ardoyne shops when Robinson jumped off the back of a motorcycle and fired multiple shots at him.

Despite the promotion of unionist condemnation of Irish rebel songs performed by the Wolfe Tones at the Féile an Phobail (People’s Festival) in nationalist West Belfast no-one spoke out against the loyalist event over than victim’s groups, and both the print and broadcast media were silent.

The parade is usually organised by alleged UVF commander Winkie Irvine, who was arrested and bailed this summer in connection with arms possession and a hoax assassination bid on 26 County Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.

Organised by the ‘Brian Robinson Memorial Committee’, notice of the parade was published online by a Shankill-based ACT Initiative, an organisation set up in 2008 supposedly “to facilitate the civilianisation of the UVF”.

The loyalist paramilitary march has now effectively become a permanent annual ‘hate’ march along the lines of the sectarian parades organised by the Protestant marching orders.

As well as UVF flags and insignia, the parade also included a banner dedicated to William Campbell, convicted of carrying out UVF pub bombings in Glasgow during the 1970s.

Campbell also helped supply the explosives used in the McGurk’s Bar bombing in 1971, which killed 15 people in a sectarian attack British forces claimed was an IRA ‘own goal’.

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