Loyalists to march in mixed communities to commemorate UDA men
Loyalists are organising a march through a mixed community to commemorate UDA members connected to numerous sectarian murders during the Troubles.
Celebrating its fourth year, the parade will take place on Friday on south Belfast's Ormeau Road - only three days before the anniversary of the killing of Joe Bratty and Raymond Elder.
The pair were connected to a gun attack at the Ormeau Road Sean Graham bookmakers in 1992 in which five Catholics were killed.
Bratty and Elder were shot dead in the same area by the Provisional IRA on July 31, 1992.
An £11,000 memorial funded by the Housing Executive built next to Candahar Street was originally intended to be used as a First World War memorial garden, but has since been repurposed to commemorate the pair.
Previously a temporary plaque displaying Bratty and Elder's names was fixed to the monument along with UDA flags being flown from lamposts.
Calls to have the structure removed have been refused.
The march will take place this Friday from 7.15pm until 8.30pm, with at least a dozen bands being present.
Friday will mark their 23rd anniversary of their deaths.
In its ruling the Parades Commission said it had received "strong representation opposed to the parade's purpose and associations with the UDA".
The Parades Commission has been reassured by the organisers that the march is to commemorate local people killed in both wars and during the Troubles. This would involve a tribute to Bratty and Elder at the memorial garden.
"The organiser asserted that acts of commemoration are an important issue for all those impacted by violence of the past," a spokesperson for the parading body said.
"The organiser pointed out that many republican parades and other acts of commemoration of the dead occur in republican areas with paramilitary displays and trappings."
Other issues the Commission had received were "alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and disruptive loud music being played in residential streets late into the evening."
Although the Parades Commission has banned the parade from a number of streets, including Ormeau Road, organisers intend to begin at Blackwood Street - one of the routes which has been banned.
From there, the organisers have said the parade will move along its planned route of Kimberly Street, Sunnyside Street, Annadale Flats, Haywood Avenue and Haywood Drive.
Independent News Service