I suspect it is embedded in the psyche on the eve of the Covenant commemorations at the end of this month, but loyalist North Belfast, having bared the religious intolerance in it’s soul at St Patrick’s, still appears to be bristling with hostility and animosity. Now the unlikely focus is a supermarket.
A former UVF member, William Hunter, who killed two Catholic brothers was at the centre of a 2010 protest over his sacking for telling a Catholic delivery man to play The Sash at the ASDA store on Belfast’s Shore Road (he was subsequently re-instated). Last week (link above), the Belfast Telegraph reports, there were tributes left at the store after Hunter:
doused himself in petrol and set his body alight on Ballywalter Road in Co Down…
The family of his two murder victims are unlikely to express much sympathy. Their brother Gerard contacted Walmart, the US company that owns Asda, and asked it to remove the tributes.. He said Hunter’s supporters were making a shrine out of Asda with his death. Asda said it had no plans to remove the tributes.
“We respect there are strong feelings from various groups within the local community on this matter. The tributes being left at our Shore Road store have been led by the local community and we are letting the community manage these,” a spokesperson said.
As well as the floral tribute (including references celebrating Hunter’s paramilitary past) there is now a book of condolences in the entrance foyer. Hunter’s violent death is as tragic as any suicide but the link with Asda/Walmart was a controversial one and the tributes are not appropriate there. If Hunter had been an IRA member, would civic unionism be so tolerant in silence?