Thousands at UVF march in Belfast

Published Saturday, 20 April 2013
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Up to 10,000 loyalists have taken part in a parade through Belfast to mark the centenary of the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Supporters lined the streets as the procession set off along the Ravenhill Road from 11am on Saturday.

As many as 40 bands were involved. Marchers wore period costumes and some carried replica weapons.

The event stayed clear of sectarian flashpoints and police maintained a low-key presence throughout the day.

It passed off without incident.

Organisers said that the emphasis was firmly on marking the events of 1913, insisting there was no link with modern-day paramilitaries.

Billy Hutchinson, PUP leader, said: "There is no matter of UDA, UVF in terms of on show; they wore totally different uniforms than they would have worn then and would have fired real guns and fired shots.

"The modern UVF have moved on, moved off the stage in that way."

However there had been controversy in the lead up to the parade when hundreds of UVF flags were erected along the route last weekend.

Some local residents raised concerns - police said the flags are not related to a proscribed organisation and offered to meet local community groups.

The parade is being staged to mark the founding of the old UVF 100 years ago to fight Home Rule - many members later fought in the First World War at the Somme. The present day paramilitary group of the same name was formed more than half a century later.

Saturday's events culminated in a gathering in the grounds of Craigavon House.

The venue was picked because it was where the plans for the original UVF were drawn up 100 years ago.

Crowds were addressed by the great granddaughter of Sir James Craig.

A minute's silence was held for volunteers who had died over the last century.

© UTV News
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178 Comments
desdodes in Belfast wrote (361 days ago):
Why did Carson,Craig etc, accept Home Rule in Stormont,when they were supposed to be against Home Rule? Just a thought.
realistic in planet earth wrote (361 days ago):
@Simmsy says "uvf did carry out atrocities but our people don't vote for them", how did Billy Hutchinson get in then? who voted for him? :)
Liam in Belfast, Ireland wrote (362 days ago):
Paul in norn iron, the uvf were treasonous. they were formed to resist home rule, against the wishes of the vast majority of people on the island. they did not want self determination, they wanted the complete opposite, to be ruled by london. they were a bunch of undemocratic sectarian thugs.
Raff in Newtownabbey wrote (362 days ago):
Paul in Norn Ireland - How were they defending the Crown when Home Rule was aiming to keep Ireland as part of the UK, under the Crown? To pass the bill would also have required Royal approval, so explain to me how, by preparing to oppose the British Govt. with it's Royal approval, the UVF were 'defending' the Crown? They weren't taking up arms to fight Nationalist's directly, they were aiming to fight against the enforcement of the Home Rule Bill which would have meant rebelling against the British Govt. and British State forces, as they would have been the ones to enforce it. That is treason.
Tommy Atkins in London, England wrote (362 days ago):
I ask the following!!!! Why were there at least one sectarian murrderer and al least six other convicted sectarian UVF thugs walking in this parade? Why did the onlookers erupt with tumultous cheers and applause when these thugs passed by? Why has there been mo outcry from loyalist politicians and parade organisors So much for honouring the UVF of the past and little wonder that the British legion have decided that N Irelands celebrations for the fallen are not in keeping with the British legions syandards
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