Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: UVF's 'celebration' plans are an insult

In the coming decade there will be a number of contentious anniversaries. Next year for instance is the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant in opposition to Home Rule for Ireland. Four years later, the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Then later the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the civil rights movement. All may be cherished dates to various sections of the community, but they can also be excuses for triumphal celebrations which would be divisive in a society trying desperately to build a new future.

There is no better example of this than the proposal uncovered by this newspaper for the UVF terror group to march through south Belfast as part of the celebration of the signing of the Ulster Covenant. The modern day UVF was the first group to carry out murder and other acts of terrorism in the late 1960s which then spiralled out of control into what is now known as the Troubles. It has very little linkage with the original UVF of 1912 - many of whom later died at the Somme - apart for its motto.

Indeed, many would say the modern UVF, especially since the ending of the Troubles, is little more than a bunch of gangsters involved in racketeering and drug dealing, lining its own pockets. The thought of such a gang parading through the city or any other part of Northern Ireland is sickening and an insult to the hundreds of people it was responsible for murdering, usually in cowardly bombings. The infamous Shankill Butchers were also UVF members.

While we cannot deny our history, in this peace-building era we should use the forthcoming anniversaries as opportunities to find what common ground exists and how the lessons of history can be put to a positive use rather than glorifying in a divisive past. And we certainly should not be giving credence to a murderous organisation whose inglorious deeds sully the reputation of Northern Ireland.

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