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Shankill Butcher McIlwaine pictured marching at the Twelfth celebrations


Eddie McIlwaine at last week's parade

Eddie McIlwaine at last week's parade

Eddie McIlwaine

Eddie McIlwaine

Eddie McIlwaine

Eddie McIlwaine


Eddie McIlwaine at last week's parade

Shankill Butcher Eddie McIlwaine was spotted brazenly parading around Belfast as part of this year’s Twelfth of July celebrations.

Proudly sporting a collarette identifying him as a former senior officer of his Loyal Orange Lodge, draped over a Rangers FC jersey, McIlwaine was pictured sauntering along the Shankill Road last week during a march.

One onlooker said: “Most people out enjoying the parade had no idea who he was or that he was involved with one of the most notorious gangs from throughout the Troubles.”

Supporters say there is no difference from former IRA prisoners taking part in nationalist parades or GAA events, with one telling this newspaper: “He has paid his debt to society. Unlike others who have taken part in other events, he was never convicted of murder.”

Thug McIlwaine was jailed for eight years in 1979 for being part of the Shankill Butchers gang, which murdered more than 20 people, including Protestants.

He was a member of the group between 1975 and 1977 and was convicted of kidnapping, assault and possession of weapons with intent to endanger life.

The loyalist was part of a four-man gang that abducted Catholic Gerard McLaverty in May 1977. The innocent man was strangled, beaten with a nail-embedded stick and had his wrists slashed before being left for dead.

But, miraculously, he survived the nightmare attack — the only Shankill Butchers victim to do so — and became instrumental in helping to cage 11 of the gang.

Released from jail in 1983, McIlwaine survived a murder attempt when the IPLO shot him while he was driving a black taxi in Belfast in 1991.

Sunday Life revealed in 2014 that McIlwaine had stewarded an Orange Order July 12 parade past a Catholic church in Belfast.

He was filmed by Carrick Hill residents ushering members of the loyal orders past St Patrick’s on Donegall Street.

Locals who provided Sunday Life with images claimed the collarette-wearing 61-year-old tried to hide his face.

One said: “Seeing Eddie McIlwaine marshal a parade past the church was insulting to the victims of the Shankill Butchers, the majority of whom were abducted from these very streets.”

In 2013, Sunday Life pictured McIlwaine parading through east Belfast during the UVF’s 100th anniversary parade.

He wore a UVF armband emblazoned with the words ‘UVF West Belfast 1’, and a medal understood to signify time spent in prison.

McIlwaine’s involvement with the Orange Order was revealed in the early 2000s when he was pictured carrying a banner commemorating UVF killer Brian Robinson at the controversial Whiterock parade.

The Orange Order previously defended the Shankill Butcher’s role in the organisation in the past, with a spokesman explaining: “Eddie McIlwaine is a member of a lodge and in good standing.

“Mr McIlwaine was not convicted of murder. He served his prison term and was not released under the [Good Friday] Agreement.

“There are people of varying political persuasions who have done things other people would find abhorrent, not all of whom served their prison sentences.

“As long as Mr McIlwaine upholds the principle of the institution and has paid his debt to society, [he can be a member].”

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