Belfast Telegraph

Glenanne Gang victim's family slam loyalist killer's tribute banner erected in Northern Ireland village

Outrage over ‘hurtful’ UVF poster put up in Moygashel

By Leona O'Neill

A woman whose father was murdered by the Glenanne Gang has said the stress over a controversial banner glorifying a loyalist killer could send her elderly mother to an early grave.

The tribute to Wesley Somerville, a member of the deadly Glenanne Gang and one of two UVF men who blew themselves up while planting a bomb on the Miami Showband's minibus in 1975, was erected in Moygashel, Co Tyrone.

Somerville and Harris Boyle, the other terrorist to die, were also members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR).

The controversial banner hangs beside another one paying tribute to the Mid-Ulster UVF and a UVF flag.

Last night, the PSNI said a 64-year-old man had been arrested in the village to prevent a breach of the peace at the memorial.

Denise Mullen's father Denis (36) was shot dead by the Glenanne Gang at their home in Moy, Co Tyrone, in 1975.

Her mother Olive survived the shooting by running across the fields beside her home, while the killers fired 13 bullets at her. Denise, then aged four, stayed with her father's body until emergency services arrived.

Denise says she is disgusted by the banner and that stress over the murder and the "constant persecution of victims" has made her 76-year-old mother Olive very ill with PTSD.

"Somerville was in the Glenanne Gang. My father was killed by the Glenanne Gang," she said.

"The same gun used in the Miami Showband massacre was used a month before to fire 13 bullets at my mother as she fled across a field for her life. This banner is extremely hurtful to my family. My mother is 76 next Friday and is in very ill health. The circumstances of her life have impacted so much it is going to send her to an early grave."

Stephen Travers, a survivor of the Miami Showband killings, said the banner was a "sad reflection of society". His bandmates Fran O'Toole, Tony Geraghty and Brian McCoy were shot dead by the gang after the bomb planted by Somerville exploded prematurely.

Stephen and Des McAlea were shot and injured but survived.

He said if people in Moygashel wanted to "hero worship Somerville, that was their business".

"If that's how the good folk of Moygashel want to present themselves, that's their business, it's none of mine," he said.

"If this is who they hero worship then God help us all. I wouldn't be one to tell them to take it down. It's up to them. If that is how they want to portray their society, if that's who they want their children to look up to, it's a sad state of affairs."

A spokesperson for the Moygashel Residents' Association refused to comment.

Belfast Telegraph

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