Northern Ireland news

Tribute banners to UDR and UVF killer put up in Tyrone

Banners paying tribute to the UDR and UVF killer Wesley Somerville in Dungannon
Connla Young

Fresh banners commemorating UVF killer Wesley Somerville and the UDR have been hung from lampposts in Co Tyrone.

The banners are believed to have been up in the Dungannon and Moygasel areas in recent days.

In June relatives of people killed by the UVF called for a similar banner commemorating Somerville put up in Moygashel to be removed.

A banner depicting a UDR soldier from the '8th Battalion' - which had its headquarters in Dungannon - was also put up in Moygashel recently.

A separate banner celebrating the '8th Battalion' of the UDR has been placed alongside one of UVF hitman Wesley Somerville in the Milltown area of Dungannon.

Milltown is a small unionist enclave close to the centre of the town.

Somerville was killed along with fellow loyalist Harris Boyle - both 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.

After the explosion a UVF gang opened fire on the band killing lead singer Fran O'Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy and wounding two others.

SDLP councillor Denise Mullen has repeatedly called for the tributes to Somerville to be removed.

Her father Denis Mullen (36) shot dead by the Glenanne Gang - which included UDR, RUC and UVF members - at their home near Moy, Co Tyrone, in September 1975.

She continues to struggle with post traumatic stress disorder brought on by the events of that night.

Last night Ms Mullen, who sits on the Victims and Survivors Forum, sent an email to victims commissioner Judith Thompson, local PSNI chiefs and council officials describing the impact the banner has on her.

“The reality is it’s gut wrenching to see this man’s face but more distressing when posters/flags etc glorifying the UDR and UVF are flown," she said.

“It takes me back to 43 years ago sitting at four years-of-age beside my murdered father covered in blood, which I live with that haunted imprint both visually and through the smell of that night daily.”

She also spoke about her medical condition.

“PTSD is a debilitating condition and often I would have to pull over in what I feel is a safe place and compose myself after seeing such flags etc,” she said.

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