Belfast Telegraph

No terror trappings, warns Parades Commission over march in memory of killers

By Allan Preston

Restrictions on a controversial loyalist band parade in south Belfast have been welcomed.

For the third year in a row an evening march is planned on the Ormeau Road to commemorate notorious UDA/UFF killers Joe Bratty and Raymond Elder.

The pair were shot dead by the IRA on the Ormeau Road in 1994.

They have been linked to the 1992 massacre of five Catholics in Sean Graham bookmakers on the same road, and other UFF killings.

Complaints were made over paramilitary displays at the two previous marches.

A Parades Commission determination for Friday has ordered: "No paramilitary-style clothing is to be worn at any time during the parades and flags, bannerettes and symbols relating to proscribed organisations shall in no circumstances be displayed."

Speaking on Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan Show, South Belfast SDLP MLA Claire Hanna said it was the right decision.

"We raised concerns last year because of the overt paramilitary character of the parade in 2014, which continued in 2015," she said.

"There were UDA flags put on lampposts, which stayed there for weeks after the event, and there was a UDA plaque and wreath laid at a publicly-funded war memorial."

She insisted she was not against band parades in the mixed area.

"This is specifically about the glorification of a group, the UDA, associated with paramilitary and sectarian murder and extortion, so the Parades Commission have been very clear that there are to be no paramilitary trappings and I very much welcome that will be the case."

It's understood organisers have urged bands not to display any paramilitary paraphernalia.

"We'll have to see if that will happen," said Ms Hanna.

"But this is wider than this event, or the UDA, or the Ormeau Road, it's a wider failure to deal with the past."

In 2014 loyalist paramilitaries were accused of "hijacking" a First World War Memorial on the Ormeau Road, which had been funded with £11,000 of Housing Executive money.

A separate plaque with UDA and UFF imagery had been added to the memorial without permission,

Ms Hanna said that she had heard of similar incidents this year.

Looking ahead to Friday night, she added: "If the parade goes ahead and there aren't UDA trappings, that's fair enough.

"People do have a right to march, but other people also have a right to the enjoyment of their neighbourhood and the right to live free from intimidation as well."

In explaining its ruling, the Parade Commission acknowledged that families of those killed by the UDA would find the parade distressing and that organisers had given "no assurances about whether a UDA/UFF plaque would be erected in the memorial garden at the end of the parade".

Belfast Telegraph


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