SDLP councillor whose father was killed by loyalists refuses to meet police officer over banner - The Irish News
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SDLP councillor whose father was killed by loyalists refuses to meet police officer over banner

The Wesley Somerville and UVF banners on display in Moygashel Co Tyrone. Picture by Mal McCann
Connla Young

AN SDLP councillor whose father was killed by loyalists has become the second member of her party to refuse to meet a senior police officer who claimed a Billy Wright banner would be offensive to some but not to others.

Denise Mullen said she was asked to meet Inspector Keith Jamieson to discuss her concerns over a separate banner erected in memory of UVF killer and Glenanne Gang member Wesley Somerville.

Mid Ulster assembly member Patsy McGlone has also snubbed the senior officer.

Inspector Jamieson angered nationalists last month when he said a poster glorifying Wright, which was put up last month in Dungannon, would be offensive to some, but not to others.

The banner also gloated about the UVF murder of four men in Cappagh in 1991.

The officer said the PSNI "must attempt to achieve a balance between the rights of one community over another”.

Ms Mullen’s father Denis (36), an SDLP activist, was shot dead by the notorious Glenanne Gang at his home near Moy in Co Tyrone in September 1975.

The gang, which involved members of the RUC, UDR and UVF, is believed to have killed up to 120 people.

Although she escaped uninjured, her mother was also targeted by the killers, whose gun had been used a month earlier to murder three members of the Miami Showband near Banbridge.

Somerville died with fellow loyalist Harris Boyle as they placed a bomb on a minibus carrying the band which exploded prematurely.

A banner in Somerville’s memory has been put up on a lamppost in Moygashel, near Dungannon, alongside another one glorifying the UVF.

It includes an image of two armed and masked men with the words: “Mid Ulster Brigade UVF, Moygashel. In memory of our fallen volunteers.”

Asked why she had not responded to requests to meet Inspector Jamieson, Ms Mullen said: “Would they be prepared to do anything?”

She said she had previously spoken to Inspector Jamieson about the Somerville banner “as a victim” and asked police to remove it.

The Dungannon-based councillor said more effort should be made to leave the past behind.

“We are trying to get away from hatred and incitement to hatred,” she said.

“The next (generation) of people, you would not expect they would have hatred in them.

“I don’t feel (the banner) is justified.”

A spokesman for the SDLP said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland will meet with any elected representative or member of the public to discuss issues that are causing concern in the community.”

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