Billy Wright banner relative to take legal action

Siobhan Nugent has called on the PSNI to publish the Billy Wright banner banner legal advice
Connla Young

RELATIVES of four men killed by the UVF are set to take legal action against the PSNI after it failed to remove a banner gloating about their deaths.

Lawyers wrote to police last week accusing the force of acting unlawfully after it refused to remove a Billy Wright banner in Dungannon, Co Tyrone.

The banner, which was fixed to a lamppost in the Eastvale Avenue area, gloated about the deaths of four men at Boyle’s Barr in Cappagh in March 1991.

Three members of the IRA, Dwayne O’Donnell (17), Malcolm Nugent (20) and John Quinn died along with civilian Thomas Armstrong (52) after loyalists opened fire with automatic weapons.

The banner, which included an image of LVF founder Billy Wright, included the words “In proud memory of Brigadier Billy Wright" and the quote "I would look back and say Cappagh was probably my best".

Dungannon based inspector Keith Jamieson subsequently sparked a furious response from nationalists after he said the banner would be offensive to some but not to others.

At a meeting of the Policing Board last week Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin described the poster as “distasteful, offensive and inappropriate" - but said legal advice suggested it did not break the law.

"The advice I got, and I took it from lawyers, was there was no contravention of the law, as distasteful as that was," he said.

Relatives have since challenged police to make their legal advice public.

A solicitor for the family of Thomas Armstrong has now written to chief constable George Hamilton on behalf of the deceased threatening legal action.

Darragh Mackin, of KRW Law, says the police failed in their duty.

“The arguments advanced in support of the position adopted by the PSNI in this instance are unlawful, irrational and or disproportionate and in contravention of our clients’ rights pursuant to Articles Three and eight of the European Convention on Human Rights,” he said.

Siobhan Nugent, a sister of Malcolm Nugent, believes "the decision by the PSNI is political and biased because there were three IRA volunteers among the four people killed at Cappagh.”

She called for the PSNI's legal advice to be made public.

A police spokesman last said: “Legal advice provided to the Chief Constable by PSNI’s Legal Services Branch is subject to legal professional privilege and cannot be disclosed to the public.”

Responding to the threat of legal action ACC Martin said: “I can confirm the Police Service of Northern Ireland is in receipt of legal correspondence and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

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