Belfast Telegraph

'His struggle is over' - tributes paid to Willie Frazer after death aged 58

Willie Frazer
Willie Frazer
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

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.

Pacemaker Press 28/7/2015 Willie Frazer attends court, as Frank McGirr appeared at Armagh Court. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/7/2015 Willie Frazer attends court, as Frank McGirr appeared at Armagh Court. Pic Pacemaker
Willie Frazer attends the long-awaited inquest into the Kingsmills massacre. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flag protesters gather at Belfast City Hall to protest against the Union Jack not being flown from the City Hall except for designated days. Willie Frazer. Picture Mark McCormick 29/11/14
Loyalist campaigner Willie Frazer at the launch of New Party (Protestant Coalition) at La Mon Hotel outside Belfast Picture Pacemaker.
Willie Frazer outside Laganside Court. Photograph by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye
Loyalist protesters including Willie Frazer outside Tennent Street Police Station. Picture: Kevin Scott
Willie Frazer addresses the families of the ten protestant workmen, shot dead by the IRA at the scene of the massacre on the Kingsmills Road in south Armagh for a memorial service to mark their passing. Photo by Alan Lewis.
Willie Frazer at the International Peace wall, Northumberland Street Belfast while Sinn Fein unvail a new mural to Gerry Adams. 03-05-2014 Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life
Loyalist campaigner Willie Frazer at Belfast High Court where he was appearing regarding a case he has taken against the Respect MP George Galloway. Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye
Union Flag protester Willie Frazer launches a new Protestant Coalition Party after the descision to remove the Union flag from flying at Belfast City Hall
Union flag protester Jamie Bryson at Laganside Court in Belfast with Willie Frazer. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 06-06-2013
Willie Frazer and Colin Worton (left), whose brother was killed, attend the inquest of the Kingsmill massacre. Pacemaker Press 08/06/2016
Willie Frazer in 2017. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Loyalist Jamie Bryson punches the air as he leaves court after being given a six-month suspended sentence. Supporting him at court was victims' campaigner Willie Frazer. Photo by Alan Lewis.

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.

Willie Frazer
Willie Frazer

"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."

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