‘No crime’ say PSNI as UVF banner celebrates murders
‘No crime’ say PSNI as UVF banner celebrates murders


The PSNI police have refused to even describe as a hate crime a new loyalist paramilitary banner which gloats about the UVF murder of four men in County Tyrone.

The banner was put up in the Eastvale area of Dungannon earlier this month and included an image of former UVF leader Billy Wright with the quote “I would look back and say Cappagh was probably my best.”

This is in reference to the UVF murder of three IRA Volunteers and one civilian in a gun attack at Boyle’s Bar in Cappagh in 1991.

Despite receiving formal complaints from several nationalist politicians, PSNI Mid Ulster District Commander Mike Baird said “no crime has been disclosed”. Dungannon-based PSNI inspector Keith Jamieson said police “must attempt to achieve a balance between the rights of one community over another”.

That comment sparked disbelief from relatives of the dead, campaign groups and nationalist politicians. The victims were IRA Volunteers Dwayne O’Donnell, Malcolm Nugent and John Quinn, and civilian Thomas Armstrong.

“Surely as a hate crime there are protocols that must be followed and this should have been removed in the first instance,” said Briege O’Donnell, mother of Dwayne O’Donnell.

Mrs O’Donnell’s lawyer Peter Corrigan said the PSNI has not responded to his requests to have the banner removed as the banner breached Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights which gives his client the right to dignity and to be allowed to grieve properly.

SDLP Policing Board member Nichola Mallon said “there is no grey area”.

“It clearly glorifies and celebrates murder and is offensive, not least to the victims’ families,” she said. “And many people will find this police response, talking about the need to balance the rights of those who erected it with the rights of the victims and other law abiding citizens, offensive.”

She said PSNI Chief George Hamilton also has “questions to answer”.

A UVF unit linked to Wright is believed to have been responsible for erecting the poster, which was put up close to the site of an ‘Eleventh Night’ bonfire. There was controversy last year when a similar banner was put up in memory of UVF killer Wesley Somerville in nearby Moygashel.

Relatives for Justice director Mark Thompson said the Wright poster has “no place in a civilised society”.

“It is designed to cause further hurt to already grieving families,” he said. “No-one in our society should be engaged in such provocative and depraved behaviour.”

Mr Thompson added that he has “no doubt it is a hate crime”.

“There are multiple agencies, local and governmental, all with legal responsibility to act immediately to have this poster removed and to hold those responsible for this egregious crime to account.”

The stand-off over the Wright banner appears is the latest example of a hands-off policy by the PSNI towards loyalist activities.

Earlier this month, republican councillor Padraig McShane, who was assaulted by loyalists at a sectarian parade in Ballycastle, County Antrim, was himself placed under arrest. The PSNI also refused to intervene over the loyalist burning of nationalist election posters and Irish and national flags, or the burning in effigy of Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly. They said any action would “increase disorder”.

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