THOUSANDS of loyalists gathered on the Shankill Road in Belfast on Saturday for a march to remember a UVF killer.
One of the dozens of bands taking part in the annual Brian Robinson parade broke off from the main event to march to Twaddell Avenue at the Ardoyne roundabout — the scene of a tense stand-off between police and demonstrators.
Loyalists have maintained a constant presence in the area since the Parades Commission banned the Orange Order from walking past the nearby nationalist Ardoyne shops on July 12.
On Saturday they used the Brian Robinson parade to reiterate their desire to march the contentious route.
With a flute band playing behind them loyalists gathered at Twaddell Avenue to face down cops holding the line.
Among those on the Shankill for yesterday's parade were UVF leader John ‘Bunter' Graham, and senior paramilitary figures including Joe McGaw and Harry Stockman.
PUP spokesman Winkie Irvine was also on the ground overseeing the event, which has been described by its critics as a “UVF money making exercise” because of the memorabilia on sale.
Wreaths were laid from various flute bands and loyalists at a mural to UVF killer Brian Robinson.
The end of Twaddell Avenue, where the loyalists marched to, is just yards from the spot where Brian Robinson gunned down innocent Catholic Paddy McKenna in 1989.
The Ardoyne man was walking past the shop fronts when the UVF hit team on a motorbike shot him dead.
Undercover soldiers then chased after Robinson, who was a pillion passenger, and its driver Davy McCullough.
They rammed the motorbike before shooting both UVF men.
Robinson died from a bullet to the back of the head as he lay on the ground.
Sinn Fein MLA Carál Ní Chuilín yesterday criticised unionist politicians for not issuing statements condemning the march for the UVF killer.
The senior republican posted on Twitter: “Total silence from political unionism when 72 bands parade around Shankill for UVF Killer Brian Robinson Memorial. Complete hypocrites.”
Robinson’s family has always maintained that he was shot dead to take the pressure off the government over republican shoot-to-kill allegations.
The year before SAS troops had killed three IRA members in Gibraltar and eight Provo gunmen at Loughall.
Relatives of Robinson are convinced he was set up and Paddy McKenna's murder was allowed to take place to make the Army “look good”.
The night before the double shooting the UVF hit-team of Robinson and McCullough were told they would be using a motorcycle rather than a car.
This had led to speculation within loyalist circles that the men were set-up by an informant within the terror gang who knew of the Army's plan to ram their motorbike.