UDA parade peaceful but media ‘shoved’

The loyalist parade off the Ormeau Road in south Belfast.
The loyalist parade off the Ormeau Road in south Belfast.

A parade in the Ormeau Road area of south Belfast linked to a massacre by loyalists appeared to pass off peacefully last night - aside from claims that several members of the media were intimidated.

The Parades Commission said the procession, organised under the name of the Annadale Heritage and Cultural Society, was intended to honour two well known UDA men.

Organisers said they planned a ceremony after the event at a memorial garden which “will include the remembrance of Joe Bratty and Raymond Elder”, according to information provided to the commission.

The pair were loyalist paramilitaries with links to the area, and are widely thought to have been involved in the UDA’s 1992 mass shooting at a bookie’s shop in the lower Ormeau neighbourhood.

They were themselves shot dead by the IRA on July 31, 1994.

The UDA murdered five people and injured many more in the attack, claimed under the name of the UFF.

It claimed the atrocity was in retaliation for the IRA murder of eight Protestants at Teebane in County Tyrone, just over two weeks beforehand.

The parade application was for 30 bands - 300 participants in total - but it was expected that less than half that were to attend.

It began at 7.15pm at Blackwood Street but had been redirected away from the Ormeau Road and along residential streets next to it, ending beside the Annadale Flats.

One photographer who attended the parade last night claimed he, another photographer and a reporter were pushed off the pavement before the parade started.

“Two lads came up to us and said ‘no photos... we don’t want you taking any photos, leave now’,” he said. “Then they started shoving us off the footpath.”

The three members of the media then got into their car, as they felt tensions were rising.

“A woman then came over and started shouting at us, and said to the police, ‘I am getting photos of the press’ and took photographs of us in the car.”

There were no reports of any other trouble at the parade, either from the PSNI or on social media.

Former SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell told the News Letter this week that those murdered had been patients at his nearby GP surgery. He said of the parade. “It just adds insult to injury.”

The DUP’s Emma Little Pengelly (South Belfast MP) and Christopher Stalford (South Belfast MLA) said of the event: “The DUP condemns all those who cling to criminality and violence.”