Belfast Telegraph

Son of murdered prison officer 'sickened' to see dad's name on Newry bonfire

Willie Frazer and Stephen Carroll also referred to on offensive bonfire

There has been widespread disgust at the bonfire.
There has been widespread disgust at the bonfire.
Prison officer David Black
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

The son of murdered prison officer David Black said he was sickened to see his father's name on a republican bonfire in Newry.

Also referenced on the anti-internment bonfire in the Parkhead area is police officer Stephen Carroll who was also killed by dissident republicans and the late victims' campaigner Willie Frazer.

Kyle Black said: "Willie, a victims’ campaigner whilst Stephen and my dad served all in our community with bravery, dignity and respect.

"I will never understand the mentality of those who seek to cause further hurt to victims, placing the names of our loved ones on a bonfire."

Mr Black was shot as he drove to work on the M1 near Lurgan in November 2012.

As well as including loyalist flags, the bonfire also mocks the Narrow Water massacre in which 18 soldiers were killed in an IRA ambush in 1979.

Police said they are treating it as a “hate incident” saying if evidence of a crime comes to light they will take action.

DUP leader Arlene Foster described the pyre as "sick".

"My heart goes out to the families who are impacted by this tower of hate," she said.

"Those who built it evidently have a lot of bitterness and hatred in their hearts. It stands in contrast to the dignity and grace of the innocent victims who today sit with empty chairs."

Kyle Black, son of murdered warder David Black
Kyle Black, son of murdered warder David Black

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill added: "This deplorable sectarian bigotry has no place in this society. This is not republican. This is not acceptable.

Members of the victims and survivors group the South East Fermanagh Foundation said the bonfire lacked “decorum, morals and dignity” demonstrating why victims could not move on with displays glorifying terrorism.

The group called for an end to the “psychological terrorisation of victims, whether it be directed against the Frazer family or other families”.

Bessbrook-based victims’ advocate Alan Lewis said: “This bonfire highlights intransigence, bigotry and lack of intelligence.

“Those who think they are celebrating anything by this type of vulgar display of sectarian hatred need an education in history, followed by a lesson in decorum”

It’s understood the bonfire normally courts controversy and there has been similar offensive items placed on it in previous years.

“It’s reprehensible and should be condemned by all sides of the community,” UUP councillor David Taylor said, “It’s sickening.”

He said the families of those referred to had suffered greatly “at the evil hands of republican terrorism and it is completely unacceptable that they should have to tolerate this despicable behaviour.

“It is all the more reprehensible and despicable that the Frazer family have to contend with this as they continue to mourn the recent loss of William.”

In a statement police said they recognised “the hurt and frustration that this has caused, to many in the community”.

“The display of this material has been perceived as offensive and distasteful.

“Police are treating this as a hate incident and should evidence come to light that a crime has been committed and suspects identified they will be brought before the courts.”

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