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Unionism’s ‘blind side’ to victims of loyalists

By David Whelan

A WOMAN whose father suffered a horrific death at the hands of the Shankill Butchers has accused unionism and the Orange Order of having a ‘blind side’ to victims of loyalism after images emerged of a former member of the gang stewarding a parade past a North Belfast church.
Pictures of Eddie McIlwaine outside St Patrick’s Catholic Church on Donegall Street on the twelfth were circulated on social media after he was filmed by Carrick Hill residents protesting against the Orange Order marches, attended by senior politicians and Order leaders.
McIlwaine, who was sentenced to eight years in jail in 1979 for his involvement with the notorious murder gang, was a member of the group between 1975 and 1977 and was convicted of kidnapping, assault and possession of weapons with intent to endanger lives.
Now Rosemary Harvey, the daughter of Joseph Morrisey, murdered by the Shankill Butchers in brutal fashion 37 years ago, has accused unionism and the Orange Order of “clear double standards” when it comes to respecting victims.
“My family has suffered so much, in ways that no one can understand unless they have been through it. But despite our experience we yearn for understanding and peace between our communities,” she said.
“We do not want to see hatred passed on to the next generation, for them to suffer what we have suffered. But we need respect and equality to ensure we can have peace.”
Joseph Morrissey became one of the last victims of the ‘Butchers’ – who tortured and murdered over 30 people – when he was dragged into the back of a car as he walked home along the Antrim Road.
His battered body was later found dumped near a community centre on the Forthriver Road.
“There is a clear double standard from unionism and the Orange Order when it comes to marches and respecting victims,” said Rosemary.
“Their approach regarding sensitivity to victims of conflict is very one way.
“Victims of loyalist and state violence do not seem to matter to them as much as victims of republicans. This question needs to be posed to them. It is one-sided.
“These are very difficult and painful issues. They need to be treated with sensitivity and respect to all victims. Unionism needs to take their responsibility seriously and not have a blind side to the suffering our community endured.”
McIlwaine was one of 11 people jailed after Catholic Gerard McLaverty survived being strangled, beaten with a nail-embedded stick and having his wrists slashed, to identify his attackers.
His involvement in the Orange Order was first revealed over a decade ago when he was pictured carrying a banner commemorating UVF killer Brian Robinson at the controversial Whiterock parade.
A spokesperson from the Orange Order refused to comment on McIlwaine’s role in this year’s Twelfth of July parade but confirmed that he was a member of the Order.
“I can confirm that Eddie McIlwaine is a member of that lodge and in good standing — meaning he is fully paid up,” he said.
“Mr McIlwaine was not convicted of murder. He served his prison term and was not released under the (Good Friday) Agreement.
“There are people of varying political persuasions who have done things other people would find abhorrent, not all of whom served their prison sentences.
“As long as Mr McIlwaine upholds the principle of the institution and has paid his debt to society he has done nothing wrong.”
A spokesperson for the DUP denied that the party has any knowledge of who marshals the parades but added that “terrorism in any form is always wrong. The DUP has a very clear record on the rule of law and condemning the work of terrorists.”
In a statement the party also said: “It should be noted that the chief spokesman against parades in North Belfast is a convicted bomber who recently published a book in which he glorified the attempted murder of a prison officer.”

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