Belfast Telegraph

Mark Bain: He went quietly in the end, on his own terms, on a sunny summer's day with a birdsong in the air

Willie Frazer’s coffin is carried into Fivemilehill Pentecostal Church in Bessbrook yesterday
Willie Frazer’s coffin is carried into Fivemilehill Pentecostal Church in Bessbrook yesterday
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

Many did not agree with his words. Many did. There were very few who failed to have an opinion on Willie Frazer.

But one thing you could say about the victims’ campaigner, he spoke the words he believed in.

He didn’t mess about.

He took the fight straight to the door of those who had robbed him of loved ones during the Troubles and he continued battering at that door until the day he died.

There were countless death threats, protests, and wars of words with those he vehemently opposed, and in the end the only thing that was ever going to silence his passion was his illness.

A man who never held back, he was never afraid to challenge those he disagreed with.

William Frederick Frazer stood up to be counted, unlike those who have taken anonymously to social media since Friday to shamelessly celebrate the death of a man — a thorn in the side of republicanism removed.

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In sharp contrast to his life of confrontation, carved out by personal grief as he watched family members murdered one by one, he found his peace in an idyllic countryside graveyard yesterday.

Arriving from all parts were those he had provided a voice for.

They had looked to him as a driving force for justice.

Among them families left behind after the Kingsmill massacre, who he had battled so long for.

Those who could not find their own voice borrowed his.

His words were so often divisive. Intended to vent fury at the republican terrorists who he felt had murdered around south Armagh to rid the area of his culture, he often caused division within his own unionist community as well.

On Monday afternoon he finally brought that unionism together, with the leaders of the three main unionist parties gathered under one roof, singing from the same hymn sheet to pay their final respects.

The DUP’s Arlene Foster, Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann and the TUV’s Jim Allister joined the hundreds of mourners.

They heard him described as a man who had dedicated his life to his country, “a true Ulsterman”.

Draped in the Union flag, his coffin was accompanied into church by the strains of a lone piper. For Willie Frazer, the strain was over.

For one who had spoken so loudly during his lifetime, the perfect peace that fell over the townland of Markethill was a serene contrast.

He went quietly in the end, on his own terms, on a sunny summer’s day with birdsong in the air.

Those he supported will be grateful for that, and their fight for justice will carry on in his absence.

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