Belfast Telegraph

Man faces trial for removing UVF terror banner from lamppost

A man accused of stealing a banner paying tribute to UVF killer Wesley Somerville in a Co Tyrone village two years ago has had his case returned for a jury trial.
A man accused of stealing a banner paying tribute to UVF killer Wesley Somerville in a Co Tyrone village two years ago has had his case returned for a jury trial.

By Staff Reporter

A man accused of stealing a banner paying tribute to UVF killer Wesley Somerville in a Co Tyrone village two years ago has had his case returned for a jury trial.

Appearing for a committal hearing was Frank McGirr, who is accused of carrying out the offence on June 23, 2017.

The banner, which court papers stated belonged to Victor McNickle and was valued at £150, had been erected on a lamppost in Moygashel before it was removed.

At the time police confirmed that reports were received of the banner's removal. They later advised that a man in his 60s had been arrested in connection with the incident.

That man turned out to be Mr McGirr (65), of Shanliss Road, Stewartstown, who appeared before Dungannon Magistrates Court earlier this year charged with theft. He has exercised his right for a jury trial.

Somerville and fellow UVF terrorist Harris Boyle - who were also members of the UDR - died in the Miami Showband massacre in July 1975 after flagging the group's minibus down at a fake checkpoint.

The bomb they were planting in the group's minibus exploded prematurely, killing both, and the rest of the UVF gang opened fire on the band members, murdering three of them.

No details of the matter where disclosed during the short hearing yesterday and it remains unclear why it has taken over two years to reach court.

A prosecuting lawyer contended there was a case to answer, which was agreed by District Judge John Meehan.

Mr McGirr confirmed he did not object to the proceedings.

When asked if he was aware of the charge against him, he replied: "That particular one."

When asked if he wished to give evidence or call witnesses on his own behalf, he replied: "Not at this stage."

Judge Meehan set bail at £200 and ordered McGirr to appear for arraignment at Dungannon Crown Court next month.

At the time of the alleged theft Mr McNickle spoke on behalf of the Moygashel Residents Association.

He said at the time: "The banner commemorating Wesley Somerville has been going up for years, it didn't just appear recently. There was never no contention about it until this last two or three years.

"He is up there because Moygashel people think he should go up there and that's that.

"They put it up every year out of respect for the man. People want it up to commemorate what he did and what happened."

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