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Billy Wright banner is symbol of a past we don't need

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 21/07/2016

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

It sometimes seems that barely a week goes by without some new, painful reminder of the barbarism of the Troubles emerging. The banner glorifying former LVF leader and multiple killer Billy Wright, which was erected on a public highway in Dungannon, is but one example.

Calls on the PSNI to remove the objectionable banner have been rejected by police who, astonishingly, say that what may seem offensive to one part of this community is not necessarily viewed in the same light by others.

This is merely dancing on the head of a pin to justify inaction. Perhaps, and understandably, the police fear that removing the banner would only lead to more being erected elsewhere. It has to be recognised that the police are often called upon to settle issues which are really the responsibility of civic society.

Some will point out that civic society sometimes doesn't set an encouraging precedent, as in the case of the Newry children's play park named after an IRA hunger striker.

We cannot undo the past, but surely common decency and humanity should prevent us heaping more pain on people who have suffered grievously in the past, often without any sign of redress in the intervening years.

Why should ordinary, law-abiding people have to look at a banner glorifying a killer, or bring their children to a park named after a terrorist? It is even more appalling if people who suffered at the hands of such terrorists when they were alive have now to swallow their hurt and find that society at large will do nothing to remove the offence from their sight.

In 2016, after all that this community - people from all sides - went through for decades, it is surely time to begin to make a new history. If Northern Ireland has really changed, then there must be a consensus among the vast majority of its citizens on what is right or wrong and what society is prepared to tolerate.

We could begin by looking at someone like Bridie McGoldrick, whose son Michael was killed by the LVF terror gang controlled by Wright. She and her husband were so devastated by the murder they contemplated taking their own lives - but their faith and innate goodness led them in another, fruitful direction.

Their memorial to their son was a charity which works with the destitute in Romania and Moldova, helping them to be self-sufficient.

They gave people a future but some here, sadly, still want to drag us back to the past.

Belfast Telegraph

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