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Call for PSNI to publish Billy Wright banner legal advice

The controversial Billy Wright poster erected in Dungannon last month
Connla Young

THE sister of a man killed by the UVF in Co Tyrone has called on police to make its legal advice public about a banner which gloated about his death.

Siobhan Nugent made the call after a senior officer claimed the poster erected in a housing estate in Dungannon did not break the law.

Ms Nugent's brother Malcolm Nugent (20) was one of three IRA men shot dead at Boyle’s Bar in Cappagh, near Dungannon, in March 1991.

Republicans Dwayne O’Donnell (17) and John Quinn (23) also died along with civilian Thomas Armstrong (52) after loyalists opened fire with automatic weapons.

The banner included the words “In proud memory of Brigadier Billy Wright" and the quote "I would look back and say Cappagh was probably my best".

It is understood it was only taken down after being damaged in attack, although police said it was removed after consultation with local representatives.

Controversy erupted last month after Dungannon-based Inspector Keith Jamieson claimed the poster was offensive to some but not to others.

In a statement to the Irish News, he also said the force “must attempt to achieve a balance between the rights of one community over another”.

Chief Constable George Hamilton told the Policing Board this week that he accepted the statement had caused offence.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin also described the poster as “distasteful, offensive and inappropriate" - but said legal advice suggested it did not break the law.

"The advice I got, and I took it from lawyers, was there was no contravention of the law, as distasteful as that was," he said.

The PSNI previously removed a poster mocking the death former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Enniskillen in 2013.

Ms Nugent said the PSNI should make its legal advice public, along with the decision-making process.

“This stands in stark contrast to the decision by the PSNI to remove less offensive banners, for instance Margaret Thatcher in Eniskillen," she said.

“We believe the decision by the PSNI is political and biased because there were three IRA volunteers among the four people killed at Cappagh.”

Meanwhile, Ms Nugent said relatives of those killed at Cappagh have not asked for a public apology from the PSNI or met with Sinn Féin representatives.

Sinn Féin previously claimed that the families wanted a public apology.

A spokesman for Sinn Féin last night said Mid Ulster MLA Linda Dillon spoke with a representative of the families about a meeting the party had with police.

He said Policing Board member Gerry Kelly also contacted the representative at their request.

Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice, who has worked closely with the Cappagh relatives, also claimed the PSNI have questions to answer.

“The PSNI have adopted an approach that is inconsistent in terms of decisions. All processes concerning these issues need to be transparent.

“So far they have failed to do that and it looks like there are critical decisions made by police rather than applying the rule of law equally.”

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