'His struggle is over' - tributes paid to Willie Frazer after death aged 58
Tributes have flooded in for victims' campaigner Willie Frazer following his death aged 58.
Mr Frazer passed away at Craigavon Area Hospital on Friday afternoon following a long battle with cancer.
Five members of his immediate family, including father Bertie, were murdered during the Troubles.
As a result Mr Frazer dedicated his life to campaigning for justice on the behalf of victims of republican violence.
DUP leader Arelne Foster said that Mr Frazer "had more pain and grief imposed upon him during his life than anyone should ever have to experience".
She said that the murders of his family members had "shaped and defined" his life.
"William was fiercely independent and never afraid to speak his mind. I greatly valued his honest viewpoint as well as the friendship and support he offered me on many occasions," Mrs Foster said.
"William feared no-one and would never be silenced from speaking up for the causes he believed most passionately in."
DUP Newry and Armagh William Irwin said that he visited with Mr Frazer in hospital shortly before his death.
"William was a tireless advocate for innocent victims of republican terrorism and his contribution in assisting many victims through various measures is something that they will be forever grateful for,” he said.
UUP leader Robin Swann said that Mr Frazer's dedication to victims "could not be questioned".
He appealed to people to give the campaigner's family time and space to grieve their loss.
Former UUP Newry and Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy said that while he didn't always agree with Mr Frazer he "liked and respected him".
"He was fearless in his approach and some people didn’t either like or appreciate that - but they had not lived the experience that he had, growing up in South Armagh and the loss of so many family members,” he said.
TUV leader Jim Allister said that Mr Frazer was always able to face setbacks and come back.
"Now his struggle is over, it behoves politicians to honour his memory by ensuring that the past is not rewritten. We must all ensure that innocent victims are not forgotten," Mr Allister said.
"I extend my heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends and like countless others across Northern Ireland will remember them in my prayers in the coming days."
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney expressed his sincere sympathies to Mr Frazer's family and acknowledged "his work of many years advocating for victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland".
Kenny Donaldson, from the victims' group South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF), paid tribute to Mr Frazer.
Mr Donaldson acknowledged that Mr Frazer was a "unique individual" but said that he was loved and respected by many outside his own family.
"He had sharp wit and could be very charming. Yes he had flaws but so too does every one of us," Mr Donaldson said.
"We pray for peace for the Frazer family over the coming days and weeks as they mourn and grieve the loss of Willie.
"If the republican movement's leadership has anything to say then it should be to call for respect to be shown to the Frazer family."
Belfast Telegraph Digital