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Willie Frazer's actions should be condemned, not defended

BBC Spotlight's comprehensively-researched documentary series on the secret history of the Troubles has produced a number of disturbing revelations, proving there is much that we still do not know about the years of violence and the role of key figures.

This will come as no surprise to the families involved in legacy cases, which have been mired in delay and obfuscation, or those who got no justice and no answers about the death of a loved one, barely even a police investigation at the time.

The authoritative and powerful reference book, Lost Lives - now a film featuring narration from leading actors including Liam Neeson and Adrian Dunbar - records the names of the 3,700 men, women and children killed during the conflict.

It is a grim litany and an essential chronicle that conveys not only the awful scale of death but the individual circumstances of each life lost, victims who are mourned and never forgotten by their friends and relatives.

As we know, Willie Frazer was one of those who lost family members and who campaigned for the victims of republican violence.

DUP leader Arlene Foster was among the many high profile figures who attended his funeral earlier this year, describing him as 'fearless' and 'tireless' in his fight on behalf of 'those innocent victims he cared so much about'.

However, the disclosure by Spotlight's Mandy McAuley that Mr Frazer, reportedly by his own admission, was involved in distributing Ulster Resistance weapons to the UDA which were later linked to 70 murders, has caused a deep sense of shock, particularly among those in the unionist community.

It is profoundly disconcerting to learn that someone who campaigned on behalf of victims was himself involved in despicable activities that produced yet more victims.

The Ulster Resistance weapons are tied to a number of sectarian atrocities and given the information we now have between Willie Frazer, the guns, loyalist paramilitaries and the brutal killing of Catholics, it is frankly appalling to hear some people attempt to defend his actions.

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson said he was not surprised by the claims while Pastor Barrie Halliday stood by Mr Frazer '100 per cent', predicting that his friend would grow in the eyes of his supporters rather than being diminished.

If so, this is truly frightening.

Anyone who participated in or facilitated acts that led to murder should be condemned, not applauded.

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