Shebeen Killing Sickens Loyalists
Tim Kelsey and David Usborne, The Independent (London, England)
"THIS is a land in darkness," Pastor James McConnell, Protestant minister to Margaret Wright, told the hundreds of mourners attending her funeral yesterday. "There is great evil in this land - this land which has a mission hall on almost every corner and a church on each and every road."
Last Wednesday, Ms Wright, 31, was beaten and killed in an illegal Belfast drinking club near the Donegall Road. It was a loyalist hall where the local Orange flute band used to practise its marches. A sign outside the club says: "This hall is for band members only - no exceptions." The windows are blocked with concrete.
Police reported large amounts of blood on the floor. There had been an all-night party and some revellers were still around drinking.
Up the road, in the yard of a terraced house, they found her body. She had been shot through the head several times. It was one of the most brutal murders in the history of the Troubles.
Police believe it was the work of loyalists who mistook Ms Wright for a Catholic or an undercover policewoman. She was neither: she was an epileptic, who could not work because of her illness, and had been struggling to overcome a long bout of depression.
Yesterday Belfast expressed its sorrow. Hundreds followed the funeral procession from the family home in Forthriver Park to the Whitewell Memorial Tabernacle Church on the Shore Road. There were many wreaths at the house: many from people who did not previously know Ms Wright.
Pastor McConnell said: "It is up to God's redeemed people to do something about the darkness" and then she was buried at Roselawn Cemetery.
The loyalist community rose up in anger and revulsion. Rev Jim Lemon, a Methodist minister, told a crowd that gathered outside the hall on Friday night that it would be closed and eventually demolished. A public collection is to be held for the family and a book of condolence will be opened in the Methodist church nearest the scene. The outlawed Ulster Volunteer Force has ordered all similar illegal drinking places to close permanently within 72 hours and, in a statement, said: "Anyone involved in the killing should not, and will not, be recognised as a loyalist."
Orange Order leaders have warned that any member of their organisation convicted of involvement would never be allowed to take part in loyalist demonstrations again.
Police are questioning 18 people, including at least two women, in connection with her death. …