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Families say UVF killer Wesley Somerville banner is a hate crime

A Wesley Somerville banner on display in Moygashel, Co Tyrone. Picture by Ann McManus.
Connla Young

A SOLICITOR for the families of people killed by a gang linked to UVF man Wesley Somerville have disputed police claims that a banner put up in his honour is not a hate crime.

The banner in Moygashel in Co Tyrone has appeared beside another paying tribute to the Mid-Ulster UVF.

A UVF flag has also been hung from the lamp-post.

An original tribute was put up in the village last month but later removed.

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

However, a new banner was put back up in the area in recent days.

Relatives of people killed by Somerville’s gang say they have reported both banners as hate crimes.

In yesterday’s Irish News Chief Inspector Roy Robinson confirmed that the new banner is not being treated as a hate crime.

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

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

However, solicitor Peter Corrigan last night said it should be treated as a crime and intends to ask for a meeting with the PSNI.

Somerville, who was a member of the Glenanne Gang, is a suspect in the murder of several other people including Patrick Falls (45) at Falls Bar at Aughamullan, near Coalisland, in November 1974.

SDLP councillor Denise Mullen, whose father Denis Mullen was gunned down by the Glenanne Gang in September 1975, has reported the banner as a hate crime.

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