McCrea admits meetings with serial killer
McCrea admits meetings with serial killer

DUP MP Willie McCrea has been urged to set out in detail the extent and nature of his relationship with loyalist murder gang leader Billy Wright.

The call by South Antrim Assembly member Mitchel McLaughlin comes after it was revealed at the Wright Inquiry that Mr McCrea held meetings with the then UVF leader in 1991 and 1992 at the height of Wright’s sectarian murder campaign in Mid-Ulster.

The MP for the area told the inquiry into Wright’s death this week that he was informed of a threat against the notorious sectarian killer a month before he was executed by the republican INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) inside Long Kesh prison.

McCrea said he did not tell the RUC police about the threat at the time because “he did not know who he could trust”.

Mr McCrea said he had received a phone call from a source he did not identify a month before Wright was shot dead warning him the LVF leader was going to be killed. He said he had not passed on details of this because the implication was the authorities were involved in the conspiracy.

During this period when Willie McCrea was the MP for Mid-Ulster, Wright’s gang was involved in the murders of 16 year old Katrina Rennie, 19 year old Eileen Duffy and local man Brian Frizzell at a chip van in Craigavon, as well as the murders of 63 year old Charlie Fox and his wife Teresa at their home neay Moy, County Armagh.

At the height of the Drumcree crisis and following the murder of Catholic taxi driver, Michael McGoldrick, Wright was expelled from the UVF and went on to form the LVF.

Shortly after his expulsion from the UVF Willie McCrea very publicly appeared alongside him at a support rally in Portadown. At that time Mr McCrea claimed that his actions were merely showing support for someone living under threat.

“It has now emerged at the Billy Wright inquiry that far from being the first encounter between Billy Wright and Willie McCrea, the MP was actually holding meetings with the then UVF leader in 1991 and 1992,” said McLaughlin.

“This despite Wright making little effort to disguise his role as a loyalist murder gang leader in Mr McCrea’a then constituency of Mid-Ulster. Mr McCrea needs to explain these revelations considering that Billy Wright was directing a murder campaign against Catholic constituents of Mid-Ulster while Willie McCrea was their constituency MP.

“This revelation will cause deep anger amongst the victims of Billy Wright’s murder squad. At best McCrea is guilty of gross hypocrisy. Willie McCrea now must set out in detail the extent and nature of his relationship with Wright and what he knew, if anything, about Mr Wright’s activities during this period.”

The Wright Inquiry was also told that the RUC’s Special Branch ‘intelligence’ division was aware the INLA inside Long Kesh planned to attack the LVF leader at the time.

MI5 claimed the most likely method of attack was the use of a hypodermic syringe filled with poison.

Despite the existence of the MI5 records, police had previously denied having been warned the INLA intended to kill Wright.

Sinn Féin also put the announcement this week by DUP MP Jeffery Donaldson that his party are in discussions with unionist paramilitary groups with a view to securing the decommissioning of arms, in the context of McCrea’s admission.

Sinn Féin Assembly member for Mid-Ulster Francie Molloy said that far from this being a new thing, the evidence at the Billy Wright Inquiry highlighted the ongoing contacts between the DUP and loyalist gangs including at the height of their sectarian murder campaign.

“Today Jeffery Donaldson has indicated to a Westminster Committee that his party have been in discussions with both the UDA and UVF over the issue of arms.

“Mr Donaldson seems to suggest that this is a recent initiative.

“However it would serve everyone better it the DUP were at least honest about their engagement with loyalist gangs.

Mr Molloy said the “hypocrisy of the DUP on this issue was “glaring”.

“On one hand for years they refused to recognise the democratic mandate of Sinn Féin before being forced to U-turn on that issue while it has now emerged at the same time at least one of their MPs was directly engaged with the leader of the Mid-Ulster UVF.”

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