UUP condemns plans for UDA commemoration in Belfast
AN ULSTER Unionist MLA has condemned plans for a march through a mixed community to glorify UDA members linked to scores of sectarian murders.
Doug Beattie said the parade in south Belfast's Ormeau Road area risks "entrenching division and hatred".
The ex-British army officer also branded it "hurtful and disrespectful" that a war memorial has been used to honour loyalist paramilitaries.
The Parades Commission is due to consider the march, which is planned to coincide with the anniversary of the killing of Joe Bratty and Raymond Elder.
They were linked to the 1992 gun attack on a Belfast bookmakers in which five Catholics were killed.
Now in its third year, the march has caused outrage for using an £11,000 memorial funded by the Housing Executive to honour UDA men including Bratty and Elder.
In both previous occasions a temporary plaque bearing their names was fixed to the monument near Annadale flats and UDA flags were flown from lampposts.
The Housing Executive has said the monument was intended as a First World War memorial.
The march will take place on July 29, two days before the 22nd anniversary of Bratty and Elder's deaths. The pair were shot dead by the Provisional IRA on Ormeau Road on July 31 1994.
Mr Beattie – the UUP's representative on Stormont's new commission on flags – said he agreed that "everyone from all conflicts must be given the opportunity to remember their dead".
But the Upper Bann MLA added: "The nature of this commemoration, particularly with the involvement of paramilitary trappings, means those responsible are in danger of entrenching division and hatred.
"Just as I condemn the commemoration of republican paramilitaries it is only right that I take a stand to condemn the commemoration of loyalist paramilitaries.
"To use a memorial that was intended to commemorate the First World War is hurtful and disrespectful to the many thousands who gave their lives in that conflict and the many who have given their lives since."