Press Releases | WHYTE: Erection of Paratroop Regiment flags are insult to memory of victims from all sides

WHYTE: Erection of Paratroop Regiment flags are insult to memory of victims from all sides

SDLP North Belfast representative Carl Whyte has condemned the erection of Paratroop Regiment flags at the junction of the Ballysillan and Oldpark Road. The flags were erected sometime on Saturday and he said they insult the memory of all those murdered by the Parachute Regiment, including two Shankill Road men - Ritchie McKinney and Robert Johnston - who were killed in cold blood by the Parachute Regiment in 1972.

As well as the eleven innocent people killed in Ballymurphy, and fourteen innocents killed on Bloody Sunday, the Parachute Regiment also killed Robert Ritchie McKinney, a married man with 5 children, and Robert Johnston on Matchett Street on 7th September 1972. The Coroner and Ministry for Home Affairs at the time said both were completely innocent. The murders were considered so outrageous that Vanguard Unionist leader Bill Craig called for the removal of the Parachute Regiment and even the UDA described the soldiers as ‘gun-happy louts who should be removed from the streets.’ 

 Speaking following calls from concerned local residents, Carl Whyte said: 

 “It will come as no surprise to anyone that a group of thugs have erected Parachute Regiment flags in some pathetic attempt to taunt the victims of Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday atrocities. What they have clearly forgotten is that it was this same disgraced Parachute Regiment who killed two innocent Shankill Road men during their murderous rampage across Northern Ireland in 1972.

 “Whoever put these flags up needs have shown complete ignorance of the history of the Parachute Regiment in Northern Ireland and these flags should be taken down immediately before they cause any further distress to victims’ families. When even Bill Craig and the UDA leadership of the era understood how bad the Parachute Regiment’s behaviour was, then surely it isn’t too much to ask that any attempt to glorify the role of that regiment should be immediately removed. 

 “I am calling on community leaders in the area to exercise their influence and have these flags taken down immediately. Any glorification of the Parachute Regiment is an insult to the memory of victims from all sides of the community, including those from the Shankill Road. I have also written to the Department of Infrastructure requesting their immediate removal,” he added. 

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