10 December 2009 Edition

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Unionist ambiguity to loyalist violence continues

VICTIM: Paddy McKenna

VICTIM: Paddy McKenna

THE Apprentice Boys decision to allow a loyalist band, dedicated to the memory of sectarian killer Brian Robinson, to take part in a controversial feeder parade in Ardyone at the weekend has been condemned by Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly.  
Kelly described the decision as “extremely insensitive” and questioned the rationale behind the Apprentice Boys decision to parade in a nationalist area and against the wishes of local residents.  
The Apprentice Boys annual Lundy Parade is held in Derry and the decision to hold a feeder parade in Ardoyne before boarding buses to Derry is seen by local people as both unnecessary and provocative.  
“It’s bad enough that, despite the wishes of local residents, the Apprentice Boys want to parade through the Ardoyne area. The participation of a band that commemorates Brian Robinson, a loyalist who murdered a local man simple because he was a Catholic, is extremely insensitive,” said the North Belfast MLA.
40-year-old Patrick McKenna was walking along the Crumlin Road, a short distance from his home, on the morning of September 2 1989 when UVF gunmen opened fire from a passing motorcycle. One of the gunmen, Brian Robinson was subsequently killed, and the second arrested, by a covert unit of the British army.  
Paddy McKenna was one of thirteen people murdered in sectarian killings by loyalist paramilitaries along the same stretch of road. It’s against this background that local opposition to loyalist parades must be understood.

The Shankill Star flute band is specifically dedicated to the memory of Brian Robinson. The decision to allow such a band to participate in Apprentice Boys’ parades is controversial in itself but to insist that they parade past the very place where Paddy McKenna was murdered is offensive.  
Local support of an appeal by the McKenna family for the parade to be ignored meant that most residents stayed away apart from a handful of protestors who gathered outside Ardoyne shops as the loyalist flute band walked past before travelling to Derry.
The continuing ambiguity of unionists to loyalist violence was also demonstrated last week when it emerged that a member of Jim Allister’s TUV party was petitioning for the release of sectarian killer Torrens Knight.  
Trevor Collins, a member of TUV, is leading a campaign calling for the release of the convicted mass murderer. In 1995 Torrens Knight, a member of the UDA, was convicted of twelve murders including the Greysteel massacre. Loyalist gunmen shouted ‘trick or treat’ before opening fire on a crowded bar in the catholic village of Greysteel in October 1993.  
Knight was sentenced to life imprisonment for the killings but was released on license under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Following conviction for a brutal assault on two sisters which took place May last year, Knight’s early release license was revoked by the British Secretary of State last week.  
Commenting on his campaign to free Knight, Trevor Collins of the TUV said he believed, “Torrens was a decent young man” who “was never a really bad person”.
A spokesperson for the TUV confirmed that Collins was a member and the TUV did not intend to expel him.

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