A huge UVF poster placed in advertising hoarding in south Belfast has been slammed as a celebration of the murder gangs.
The poster has been professionally fitted in a commercial hoarding frame in the Village area of the city. The image bears the name and logo of the loyalist paramilitary group and the words ‘2nd Battalion B. Company Village’.
The marketing location has previously been used to display UVF flags and a Brexit protest banner.
SDLP councillor Gary McKeown called for both the poster and hoarding to be removed.
“Communities are sick and tired of this type of celebration of paramilitarism. What kind of message does it send out when visitors see this on a main road out of the city?” he said.
“It’s time for those responsible for outdated displays like this to back off and start doing something positive for the community instead of holding people back.”
He added: “The owner of this billboard also has a responsibility to remove it if it’s no longer in commercial use to prevent this from continuing.”
UVF and UDA flags appeared in nearby areas during the summer without any response from the authorities. The PSNI has said it will only act against loyalist flags and symbols “where there are assessed risks to public safety”.
Meanwhile, the boss of a loyalist ‘peace charity’ last week led a parade honouring a UVF killer while wearing clothing branded with UVF logo.
An MP is now calling on the Charity Commission to investigate ACT (Action for Community Transformation) Initiative director Tommy Harrison’s role in the controversial Brian Robinson march on Belfast’s Shankill Road last weekend.
The loyalist died in 1989 when he was shot seconds after murdering innocent Catholic civilian Paddy McKenna at an interface in north Belfast.
The Sunday Life reported that Harrison walked at the front of the Robinson parade, wearing a tie with a UVF logo and with a military stick under his arm. He led a group of men dressed similarly who were carrying UVF flags.
Infamous Shankill Butcher Eddie McIlwaine was also pictured at the Robinson event, wearing his Orange sash and carrying a wreath.
The group earned £335,000 last year in grant aid from the Dublin-based International Fund for Ireland, the Stormont Executive Office and the Joseph Rowntree Trust, a Quaker foundation.
It was announced this week that ‘peace groups’ and other reconciliation schemes are to receive a further £1bn in additional funding in a partnership between the EU and the London and Dublin governments.
Alliance MP Stephen Farry said: “It is not appropriate for someone in the position of responsibility of Mr Harrison to not only participate in such a parade, but also lead it on several occasions.”