20 years on, death of a UVF killer still looms large in loyalist memory
Clearly marked on its crest and drum are the words: “In memory of Brian Robinson” — the UVF gunman who murdered a Catholic on the Crumlin Road in 1989.
To many nationalist and republican residents in north Belfast the Apprentice Boys’ invitation to the Shankill Star Flute band to march past Ardoyne on Saturday was a “deliberate attempt to fuel community tensions”.
But supporters say the decision by the Parades Commission to bar the band from marching past Ardoyne shops is a “red herring to further cull the unionist expression”.
Brian Robinson (27) was shot dead by an undercover Army patrol just minutes after murdering Patrick McKenna in the Ardoyne area.
Mr McKenna (40) was shot 11 times as he walked along the Crumlin Road in a random sectarian attack carried out by Robinson.
Minutes later a motorbike carrying the gunman, driven by a second UVF man, Davy McCullough, was rammed off the road by a covert British Army unit.
Robinson was shot twice in the back of the head by a female Army operative in what was the only so-called shoot-to-kill incident involving a loyalist paramilitary.
When told of her son’s death, Robinson’s mother Margaret suffered a heart attack and died. The two were buried on the same day.
Many loyalists have since alleged that he was shot unnecessarily. Members of his family have said they believe he was “executed” by soldiers. He is commemorated on a large UVF mural in the Woodvale area.
Another controversial parade in Robinson’s memory is due to be held in the area next month. The annual parade has led to violence in the past. It sparks controversy every year because of its paramilitary trappings — with countless UVF banners and “shows of strength” at the Robinson murals.