There have been condemnations after a member of the infamous Shankill Butcher gang was seen taking part in a sectarian march and putting up UVF paramilitary flags.
Eddie McIlwaine (pictured, inset), who was part of the UVF-linked gang known for their horrific acts, including over 20 savage killings, mainly targeted random Catholics.
He served in the British Army’s UDR (Ulster Defence Regiment) simultaneously with his involvement in the gang, notorious for the brutality of the murders - victims were beaten ferociously and had their throat hacked with a butcher’s knife. Some were also tortured and attacked with a hatchet.
McIlwaine was convicted for kidnapping and torturing one Catholic man, but he was never convicted of murder.
Recently, unionists condemned Sinn Fein MP John Finucane, asking how he could attend an IRA commemoration in south Armagh, but McIlwaine’s role in the Orange Order has further exposed the hypocrisy of unionist leaders who are also members of the anti-Catholic organisation.
Despite his murderous past, McIlwaine is frequently seen proudly participating in Orange Order parades. He was recently observed participating in the Whiterock parade in Belfast, marching alongside others, wearing an Orange Order collarette and carrying a cane past a sectarian interface.
SDLP councillor Paul Doherty criticised McIlwaine’s participation, considering the horrific crimes committed by his gang and the impact they had on the Whiterock area. Gerry Armstrong, whose brother was abducted and killed by the UVF in 1974, also condemned the situation, stating, “It’s despicable and frustrating to see it.”
DRUMCREE ORANGEMEN TO PROTEST
Hundreds of sectarian hate marches are set to take place across the North over a four day period on the 9th, 11th, 12th and 13th July.
The numbers taking part in the coat-trailing exercises have been in decline since nationalist opposition to an Orange Order parade in Portadown ended with the shocking murders of three young Catholic children. That led to a ruling against such parades in Portadown, but Orangemen threre have made annual token efforts to complete their parade along the Garvaghy Road.
But the Orange Order has said that the 25th anniversary of the Garvaghy Road stand-off will be marked with a “much bigger” event than their normal protest on the 9th.
Despite declining numbers of unionists, the number of Orange parades still taking place show that they are about intimidation, according to nationalists.
“Such unwanted parades aren’t limited to July but take place throughout the entire year”, said Saoradh Newry representative Stephen Murney.
Speaking about his own area, he said: “These upcoming parades include outward routes and return legs which actually turn one parade into two separate marches taking place at different times on the same day.
“Most of the areas set to endure these marches aren’t even considered to be Unionist/Loyalist areas. They are in fact mixed areas and in some cases are considered to be predominantly nationalist.
“These hate displays will have an adverse effect on local businesses and hamper the daily routine of local residents who find themselves unable to go about their daily lives.
“Roads will be blocked, traffic will be brought to a standstill and as always it is the ordinary people who will suffer at the hands of bigots and their ever willing cohorts in the PSNI who will facilitate these bigots by erecting a ring of steel around Newry.
“Those who organise, participate and the forces who facilitate these marches are doing nothing but causing sectarian tension and possibly creating a scenario for conflict.”
Murney concluded “As a party, Saoradh are vehemently opposed the scourge of sectarian bigotry which has no place in today’s society. These unwanted parades should be stopped indefinitely.”