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Police chief says loyalist killer Billy Wright Cappagh banner 'won't offend everyone' and PSNI must attempt to achieve balance

Published 20/07/2016

The poster eulogising Billy Wright
The poster eulogising Billy Wright
Former LVF founder and leader Billy Wright who was killed inside the Maze Prison by the INLA in 1997

Police have defended allowing a banner of loyalist killer Billy Wright bragging over the UVF killing of four people to remain on display in a Co Tyrone town.

The Irish News reported the PSNI's response to a banner featuring the notorious LVF leader - known as 'King Rat' - hung on a lamppost in Dungannon.

The banner was placed in the town around two weeks ago. Under the title "In proud memory of brigadier Billy Wright" it features the quote: "I would look back and say Cappagh was probably our best."

The quote is in reference to the 1991 Cappagh killings of four men, including three IRA members, at a Boyle's Bar in the Co Tyrone village.

Wright was thought to have planned and led the attack.

PSNI inspector Keith Jamieson said: "There is no doubt that this sign will be perceived by some to be offensive, but not by others and 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 of course must act within the law.

“We are working with the community in an attempt to resolve this matter and we will continue to do so.”

More: Banner tribute to LVF killer Billy Wright erected in Tyrone

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone said he had reported it to police to look at the matter under incitement to hatred laws.

He described the PSNI's attitude over the matter as "disgraceful".

Billy Wright
Billy Wright
LVF leader Billy Wright
Loyalist paramilitary Billy Wright pictured in Portadown in August 1996.

Speaking on the BBC Stephen Nolan radio show, he said: "This was a leaders of a paramilitary organisation which inflicted terrible suffering on parts of Tyrone and Armagh. My initial reaction was to feel for the families of those murdered and indeed I have attended funerals of people murdered by Mr King Rat's gang.

"I feel that the police response that they have to balance the rights of one community over another - this is nothing to do with rights. This is either right or wrong.

"The police appear to becoming to this from a balance of wrong bowing to the lowest common demonimator.

"This is incitement, hate, wrong and particularly distressing to the families in fairly reasonable proximity to where the killings happened.

"To me those killed - irrespective if they were members of the IRA or not - were not armed, they were sitting in a pub, this was an attack on a bar. It was murder and was investigated by the police as murder.

"It is not the right of any community to put up poster bragging of an event of people killed in a mass murder.

Funeral of loyalist Billy Wright in Portadown - Wright was shot by an INLA inmate at the Maze Prison
Funeral of loyalist Billy Wright in Portadown - Wright was shot by an INLA inmate at the Maze Prison

"To look at it as to spew out hatred as a right, then I think we are in a crazy society."

Police said they had nothing to add to their officer's statement in The Irish News.

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

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