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DUP condemns plans for loyalist parade glorifying UDA killers

Bands marching on Ormeau Road in south Belfast last year during a parade honouring UDA members
Brendan Hughes

THE DUP has condemned a planned parade through a mixed community to glorify notorious UDA members linked to scores of sectarian murders during the Troubles.

Hundreds of loyalists are set to take part in the parade tomorrow through south Belfast's Ormeau Road area to mark 21 years since the deaths of Joe Bratty and Raymond Elder.

The UDA men were linked numerous Troubles killings including a 1992 gun attack on a Belfast bookmakers in which five Catholics were killed.

The Parades Commission has given the go-ahead to the parade without significant restrictions despite the paramilitary commemoration causing outrage when it was first held last year.

It caused controversy after an £11,000 memorial funded by the Housing Executive was used to honour UDA men including Bratty and Elder.

Among those who attended last year's parade was the son of DUP assembly member and former health minister Edwin Poots.

Lisburn DUP councillor Luke Poots was seen standing for at least an hour just yards from the memorial at Candahar Street, off Ormeau Road.

He told The Irish News at the time that he strayed into the commemoration after happening upon it while returning from a church service.

Last night DUP MLA for South Belfast Jimmy Spratt said the party has a "consistent record of condemning all terrorism whether it was yesterday or 40 years ago".

"There is no place in our society for the commemoration of those who took innocent life. All such acts of glorification only serve to confuse this generation," he said.

"Paramilitaries were a scourge on their communities. No-one should look on those who were involved in murder as being heroic."

Organisers say up to 1,600 people and 35 bands are set to take part in the parade, which is due to begin tomorrow at 7.30pm.

In its ruling the Parades Commission said it received a "significant number of complaints" from residents following the first march last year.

The use of paramilitary trappings and participants intimidating residents were among the issues raised.

However, the Parades Commission did not restrict the route or bands taking part, instead re-iterating general requirements for participants on issues such as behaviour and attire.

It comes just weeks after the PSNI was accused of a U-turn on its flags policy in the Ormeau Road area.

Police last summer said in future the flying of loyalist flags in the mixed community would be treated as a "breach of the peace".

But this year the PSNI said it was an issue for the local community to resolve.

Among the bands is one that had some members accused of urinating in residents' gardens during last year's contentious parade.

South Belfast's Finaghy True Blues is also due to take part. During the Twelfth, the band was criticised for playing a hymn going past a Catholic church in Belfast despite the Parades Commission saying that only a single drumbeat should be played.

Bratty and Elder were shot dead by the Provisional IRA on the Ormeau Road on July 31 1994.

The notorious loyalist paramilitaries were widely believed to have been involved in the brutal murder of five Catholics at Sean Graham bookmakers on Ormeau Road in 1992.

Just weeks ago a UDA member said to have been involved in organising the 1992 gun attack was killed.

Colin 'Bap' Lindsay (47) was one of two men who died after a sword attack at Kirkistown Walk in the Belvoir estate on July 8.

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