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Billy Wright banner: Police stance 'adds further insult to grievous harm'

By Laura Abernethy

Published 21/07/2016

The poster in Dungannon commemorating the loyalist mass murderer
The poster in Dungannon commemorating the loyalist mass murderer
Billy Wright
LVF leader Billy Wright
Loyalist paramilitary Billy Wright pictured in Portadown in August 1996.
Affronted: Trevor Lunn

The PSNI diminished the grief of four families by refusing to remove a banner praising the murder of their loved ones because it did not "offend everyone", a victims' group has said.

The intervention came after a poster commemorating LVF leader Billy Wright was erected two weeks ago in Dungannon.

Below a picture of the notorious terrorist is a quote from him reading, "I would look back and say Cappagh was probably our best" -a reference to the murder of four people in the Co Down village in 1991. The banner was reported to police, but earlier this week the force confirmed its officers would not take it down.

In a statement to the Irish News, PSNI inspector Keith Jamieson said: "There is no doubt that this sign will be perceived by some to be offensive, but not by others. While we are sensitive to the feelings of victims' families, the PSNI must attempt to achieve a balance between the rights of one community over another, and act within the law. We are working with the community in an attempt to resolve this matter, and we will continue to do so."

But yesterday, Relatives for Justice, which works with the families of the four Cappagh victims, said that was an "appalling admission" by the PSNI.

"To say that there are competing rights in such a situation is as odious as the banner itself," director Mark Thompson added. The PSNI has added further insult to an already grievous harm.

"This is an attempt by the PSNI to deliberately diminish the grief of these four families.

"To promote the notion that some will not find the poster insulting is to completely abdicate the understanding of sectarian hate crime, remove this matter from the realm of hate crime and to try and render the victims powerless under law."

Yesterday, the Alliance Party said they were seeking a meeting with the Chief Constable.

Alliance justice spokesperson Trevor Lunn MLA explained: "There is nothing to balance in this case - murder is wrong, and we must all unite to reject the likes of this banner or similar memorials. It is also wrong to assume that only nationalists would get offended by it, as anyone who is opposed to terrorism will be affronted by it."

Former LVF founder and leader Billy Wright who was killed inside the Maze Prison by the INLA in 1997
Former LVF founder and leader Billy Wright who was killed inside the Maze Prison by the INLA in 1997
The two guns used in the INLA murder of Billy Wright
The two guns used in the INLA murder of Billy Wright

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