Leading loyalist Ken Wilkinson vows: No paramilitary trappings at my funeral

Ken Wilkinson said sectarianism is worse now than it was 30 years ago
Ken Wilkinson said sectarianism is worse now than it was 30 years ago
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A leading loyalist, who is terminally ill, has vowed that there will be no paramilitary trappings at his funeral.

PUP veteran Ken Wilkinson, 71, is battling Interstitial Lung Disease and has been told by doctors he has only months left to live.

Mr Wilkinson, from Antrim, said that he has now been sent home from hospital and is hopeful that he stays alive long enough to celebrate one last Christmas with his family.

He said: “There is nothing more to be done now other than make me comfortable. The staff in hospital were amazing, I cannot speak highly enough of them.

“I am quite lucky in that I have no aches and pains, no discomfort. However, I have to have oxygen 24 hours a day. My two brothers have come home to visit me this week and we had a wee party.”

Mr Wilkinson, a high-profile campaigner in his local community, said he had no regrets about his life.

“I did a lot of work on the ground. I always tried to stand up for the working man. I’ve often been accused of being anti-Catholic but I have worked alongside Catholics. What I have always been against is republicans and drug dealers.

“Politics today is in a shambles. Brexit has turned democracy on its head. People voted for something and it hasn’t happened and it is pushing young loyalists to the edge, there is a lot of anger in the loyalist community over what is happening.

“The sad thing is that sectarianism is getting worse, it is worse in our communities than it was 30 years ago.”

Despite his alignment with the UVF-linked PUP, Mr Wilkinson, a father of three, insisted that paramilitaries were not welcome at his funeral.

“There will be no paramilitary trappings at my funeral, I don’t want anything like that. I am all about class issues and that is what is important to me.

“I have come to terms with my death. I have been quite lucky in that I have had time to get my head around it and to put all of my affairs in order and to make all of the arrangements. The doctors have said it is months, rather than years. I am just hoping that I will get one last Christmas with my family.”