Billy Wright poster row: PSNI ‘removed Margaret Thatcher banner'

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Brendan Hughes

POLICE removed a banner hailing the death of Margaret Thatcher, it has been claimed amid uproar over the PSNI failing to take down a poster of Billy Wright.

The controversial banner about the ex-UVF leader was recently erected on a lamppost in the Eastvale Avenue area of Dungannon in Co Tyrone.

It carried the quote, "I would look back and say Cappagh was probably my best" – an apparent reference to the UVF murder of three IRA men and a civilian in 1991.

Police are treating the banner as a "hate incident", but have been criticised for failing to step in to remove it.

The PSNI also sparked further anger last week when in response a senior officer said police "must attempt to achieve a balance between the rights of one community over another".

Dungannon-based inspector Keith Jamieson also said the banner "will be perceived by some to be offensive, but not by others".

It has since been claimed that police previously intervened to remove a display gloating over the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

A security source told The Irish News the banner had been erected in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, around the time of her funeral in 2013.

Officers are said to have noticed the display and acted quickly to remove it late at night – without receiving any complaint from a member of the public.

The PSNI last night was unable to respond to requests for a comment.

The original Billy Wright banner was reported some weeks ago to police as "incitement to hatred" by SDLP Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone.

It was replaced by a new display last week which shows LVF founder Wright standing in front of Drumcree Church in Portadown with the words: "In proud memory, Billy Wright, a true son of Ulster."

There is no reference to the Cappagh killings on the new banner although it does carry a quote from the loyalist.

The Irish News understands the original banner was damaged during an attempt to remove it last Wednesday morning.

It is believed a man used a Stanley knife to slash the banner in half before making off.

SDLP Policing Board member Nichola Mallon has said she intends to question PSNI chief constable George Hamilton in the coming weeks, while Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon has met with police.

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