Belfast Telegraph

Shankill Butcher steward as Orange march passed a Catholic church

By Ciaran Barnes

One of the Shankill Butchers stewarded an Orange Order parade past a Catholic church in Belfast last weekend.

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

on the Twelfth.

Locals who provided Sunday Life with the image claimed the sash-wearing 61-year-old tried to hide his face when he realised that he was being pictured.

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

McIlwaine was jailed for eight years in 1979 for being part |of the Shankill Butchers gang that killed 19 Catholics and Protestants.

He was a member of the group between 1975-77 and was convicted of kidnapping, assault and possession of weapons with intent to endanger life.

The loyalist was part of a four-man ‘Butcher’ gang which |abducted Catholic Gerard McLaverty in May 1977. The |innocent victim was strangled, beaten with a nail-embedded stick and had his wrists slashed before being left for dead in a Shankill Road alleyway.

But, miraculously, McLaverty survived the nightmare attack – the only Shankill Butchers |victim to do so – and became |instrumental in helping to cage 11 of them.

A short time after his conviction, it emerged that McIlwaine had been a member of the UDR during his involvement with the terror gang.

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

Last year Sunday Life pictured him 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 first |revealed a decade ago when he was pictured carrying a banner commemorating UVF killer Brian Robinson at the controversial Whiterock parade.

A spokesman for the Orange Order defended the Shankill Butcher’s role in the organisation, saying: “I can confirm that Eddie McIlwaine is a member of that lodge and in good standing — meaning he is fully paid up.

“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 has done nothing wrong.”

The parade past St Patrick’s in Donegall Street was at the centre of controversy when Sinn Féin accused some bandsmen |of “multiple breaches” of the|Parades Commission ban on music outside the church.

Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín said: “Several loyalist bands clearly flouted the |Parades Commission’s ruling that bands should play only a single drumbeat close to and outside St Patrick’s Church in Donegall St.

“One band even started to play the infamous Famine Song as they passed the chapel.

“Ultimately the Orange Order is responsible for these brea-ches as it hires these bands. Time and time again the bands chose to stick two fingers up at the parishioners of St Patrick’s.

“The Orange Order claims it wants respect for its expression of culture but respect is a two-way street.”

There was a minor scuffle during the return parade in the evening when some supporters pushed and shoved against |police as they attempted to accompany one Shankill Road band up the street to their destination at Clifton Street.


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