Northern Ireland news

Planning officials asked to investigate UVF banner

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

PLANNING officials have been asked to investigate if the erection of a banner glorifying UVF man Wesley Somerville has breached regulations.

A poster bearing his picture was put up on a lamppost in Moygashel outside Dungannon, Co Tyrone last month alongside another paying tribute to the Mid-Ulster UVF.

A UVF flag has also been hung from the lamppost.

The original tribute was later removed and a man in his sixties was 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, sparking fresh anger.

Somerville was part of the notorious Glenanne gang which included members of the RUC, UDR and UVF and a suspect in the murder of several people including Patrick Falls (45) near Coalisland in 1974.

SDLP councillor Denise Mullen, whose father Denis Mullen was gunned down by the Glenanne Gang in 1975, has contacted planning officials at Mid-Ulster District Council about the banner.

The PSNI is treating it as a "hate incident" but claimed no crime has been committed.

Ms Mullen, who is also a member of the Policing and Community Safety Partnership, described it as a hate crime.

"I have asked the council if there have been any breaches of planning regulations," she said.

"If any breaches are fund to have taken place I will expect the relevant departments to deal swiftly with the matter."

Somerville was killed along with fellow UVF and UDR man Harris Boyle as they placed a bomb in a minibus carrying the Miami Showband near Banbridge in Co Down in July 1975.

When the bomb exploded other members of the loyalist gang opened fire killing three band members.

A spokeswoman for Mid Ulster District Council said: "Council has received a complaint and it will be considered in due course by the enforcement section of the planning department."

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