Belfast Telegraph

Willie Frazer: I could have perished in arson blitz on my home

By Adrian Rutherford

Loyalist campaigner Willie Frazer says he could have been killed if police had not alerted him to an arson attack at his Co Armagh home.

The high-profile Protestant victims spokesman and flag protest leader was asleep when his car was torched during the early hours of Sunday.

A passing PSNI patrol saw the flames and brought Mr Frazer (52) to safety.

Mr Frazer, who has been involved in organising protests over the removal of the Union flag from Belfast City Hall, branded the attack "attempted murder" and blamed criminal elements within republicanism.

However, he has vowed not to be intimidated by the attack.

"These scum will not deter me from doing what I'm doing," he said. "They were throwing petrol bombs at my house 40 years ago when I was 10 or 11. It did not deter my father then and it won't deter me now."

The attack took place at around 1.15am on Sunday. Mr Frazer's car, which had been parked close to his Markethill bungalow, was destroyed. The flames spread to a corner of his home, with a kitchen door and guttering suffering scorch damage.

According to Mr Frazer, the heat was so intense that a clock on an inside wall melted.

His wife and teenage son Philip were not at home at the time.

He claimed the attackers waited until his car was parked close to his house before setting it ablaze.

And he praised the actions of officers who alerted him to the danger.

"The police saw the flames and came down and woke me, as I was sleeping in my bed," he added. "I have to thank the police and the fire brigade.

"Only for them I probably, at the very least, wouldn't have a home, and only for the police I probably wouldn't be standing here."

Mr Frazer said he regularly gets death threats, and had received one 90 minutes before the attack.

"These scum who came and attacked my home never have the guts to face you," he added.

"But they come here in the middle of the night and try and burn us in our beds."

His son said those responsible had achieved nothing.

"If the police had not seen what was going on, today it might be a different story," he said.

"They think they have achieved something here. They have achieved nothing."

Newry and Armagh Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy said the attack was "a very sinister development".

"Everyone has the right to express their views in a democratic society and this attack appears to be an attempt to interfere with that democratic right," he said.

Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy also condemned those behind the attack.

"Whoever was responsible for the arson attack outside Willie Frazer's home last night was not representative of the vast majority of people in this constituency," he said.

"Whatever people's views are of Mr Frazer's public statements or actions, there can be no justification for an attack like this on a family home."

DUP MLA William Irwin said violence of any nature was "completely unacceptable".

Appealing for information, a police spokesman said: "This was a very dangerous fire and due to the quick-thinking actions of officers out on patrol no one was hurt.

"The consequences if we had not caught this fire in time do not bear thinking about."

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