Northern Ireland news

Funeral held for loyalist campaigner Willie Frazer

Willie Frazer's Orange Sash and UDR beret placed on his coffin. The 58-year-old passed away in hospital on Friday surrounded by his family after a long battle with cancer. Photo By Justin Kernoghan
Rebecca Black, Press Association

The funeral has taken place for high-profile loyalist campaigner William Frazer.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, UUP leader Robin Swann and TUV leader Jim Allister – and loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson – were among the mourners who attended the service at Fivemilehill Pentecostal Church in Bessbrook, Co Armagh.

Mr Frazer's coffin was draped with a union flag.

A forthright campaigner for victims of republican violence, his father Bertie and several other family members were killed by the IRA.

Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 1/7/2019.Photo By Justin Kernoghan.DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP member Emma Little Pengelly - The funeral of prominent victims' campaigner Willie Frazer at Fivemilehill Pentecostal Church, Bessbrook today. The 58-year-old passed away in hospital on Friday surrounded by his family after a long battle with cancer..

Mr Frazer set up the group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (Fair) in 1998.

He had many supporters in the loyalist community, but was seen as divisive by many republicans and nationalists.

He once said he had received enough death threats in his life to paper the walls of his house with them.

One of his longest campaigns had been aimed at securing justice for the families of 10 Protestant workmen shot dead by republican gunmen at Kingsmill in south Armagh in 1976.

Michelle Williamson, who lost her parents in the Shankill bomb at the funeral of prominent victims' campaigner Willie Frazer at Fivemilehill Pentecostal Church, Bessbrook today. The 58-year-old passed away in hospital on Friday surrounded by his family after a long battle with cancer. Photo By Justin Kernoghan

His funeral today heard his coffin passed the point in the road where the shooting took place on the way to the gospel hall.

Many of the Kingsmill families attended the service.

Mrs Foster was among those who addressed mourners, recalling Mr Frazer, who she had one time represented as a lawyer, as someone who fought for justice.

"We have heard today that William was fearless, and he was. William was fearless and he never gave up on fighting for justice," she said.

"Despite all the hatred and and all the bile that was directed at him from republicans, he kept going.

"We have all lost someone who was witty, original, unvarnished, yes, but was very much the real thing.

"I will very much miss William for many reasons."

Independent councillor Paul Berry also addressed the funeral, describing Mr Frazer as "fearless", a "true Ulsterman" and urged that someone "takes up the mantle" in his absence.

"To his last breath, he continued to fight for justice," he said.

"Willie may be gone, but his legacy will live on.

"Those who try to rewrite history must not be allowed to go unchallenged. I trust someone will take up the mantle."

Mr Frazer died on Friday at the age of 58 after a long battle with cancer.

He is survived by his wife Ann, son Phillip and wider family circle.

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