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Removed Wesley Somerville banner replaced

The Wesley Somerville and UVF Banner on display in Moygashel, Co Tyrone. Picture by Ann McManus.
Connla Young

LOYALISTS have put up a new banner glorifying UVF hitman Wesley Somerville after the original was taken down.

Relatives of people killed by the loyalist and his UVF unit have previously called on police to removal the banner from a lamp-post in Moygashel, Co Tyrone.

The banner, which was put up beside another paying tribute to the Mid Ulster UVF, was taken from the lamp-post in broad day light last month.

A man aged in his 60s was arrested on suspicion of theft and later released on police bail pending further enquiries.

A spokeswoman for the PSNI last night said the removed banner “is currently being held as evidence in relation to the ongoing investigation”.

It is believed the new banner was put up on a different lamp-post in the village in recent days.

Somerville was killed along with fellow loyalist Harris Boyle - both were also members of the UDR - as they placed a bomb on a minibus carrying the Miami Showband near Banbridge in Co Down on July 31, 1975.

The bus had earlier been stopped at a bogus UDR checkpoint.

When the bomb exploded members of the loyalist gang - some of them also UDR members - opened fire on the band, killing lead singer Fran O'Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy and wounding two others.

His brother John was later convicted for his part in the attack.

Wesley Somerville has also been identified as a suspect in the murders of Arthur Mulholland and Eugene Doyle at Hayden's Bar near Pomeroy in Co Tyrone in 1975 and the 1973 shooting of Banbridge trade unionist Patrick Campbell.

He was involved with the notorious Glenanne Gang, which included members of the RUC, UDR and UVF.

SDLP councillor Denise Mullen, who was recently appointed to the local Policing and Community Safety Partnership, welcomed the removal of the banner.

“I am relieved to see this banner removed, it should never have been there in the first place,” she said.

Her father Denis Mullen was gunned down by the Glenanne Gang at his family home at Collegeland, Co Armagh, in September 1975.

She said she was "disappointed" to see something similar go up again.

“I will be contacting police again to report this as a hate crime."

Chief Inspector Roy Robinson said: “We have received a report of the erection of a banner/poster in the Moygashel area, Dungannon.

“As a police service we recognise the hurt and frustration that can be caused when a particular poster or banner appears, however, we are compelled in law to consider the legislation available to us.

“Whilst the display of this poster may be perceived as offensive and distasteful, the erection of it does not in itself breach the law.

"Therefore it is being treated as a ‘hate incident' as no crime has been committed.”

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