VICTIMS campaigner and prominent speaker at the flags protests Willie Frazer, has answered questions on a range of topics during an exclusive webchat with the News Letter.
Mr Frazer who is part of the Ulster People’s Forum and is standing as a candidate in the Mid Ulster by-election, attracted a huge response during the live webchat.
Below is the full transcript of the webchat
William Frazer: Thanks for all your questions.
William Frazer: Firstly we are speaking to the Garda with reference to organising a date, but this time we will maybe be more constructive in how let people know. This time there will be no warning ahead of the march, we will just turn up, with the co-operation of the Garda.
The whole issue of collusion - it was a number of individuals involved, not the whole police force. And the majority of Garda , like the RUC, were and are good officers. As we have proven in the past there are individuals who were working with the IRA, and that needs to be addressed. That doesn’t mean every Garda officer can be held accountable for the actions of a few.
Comment From Frank
Hello William, has there been a new date set for the march in Dublin? I also found it interesting your recent comments on the Garda being very helpful and that you would like to deal with them more if you could, are these not the same individuals that aided collusion?
William Frazer: I was not chased from east Belfast. I have been made very welcome, not only there but in all parts of Northern Ireland and indeed Scotland too. I only work with facts, not myth.
Comment From guest
why did genuine loyalists chase you from east belfast and tell you you werent welcome?
William Frazer: First off it has to be proven. There is also a duty of the state to protect its citizens in areas like south Armagh, mid Ulster, north Belfast or wherever in Northern Ireland. If there is going to be an inquiry there should be an inquiry into why that did not happen because the state is entitled to use whatever force necessary to protect its citizens. The British Government could send our troops out to the Falklands or out to Afghanistan but they couldn’t send them into south Armagh after the IRA, why?
Comment From John Gardener
Willie is on record complaining about Inquiries like that for Bloody Sunday and Pat Finucane. Without resorting to ‘whataboutery’ can he tell us how he feels the state should deal with incidents where it has illegally killed its own citizens?
William Frazer: At the minute I would stand as an independent candidate but a lot of people from the Ulster People’s Forum have suggested giving their backing if I was to stand under the Forum ticket. But I want to make it clear the Ulster People’s Forum is not a political party. I could stand as an Independent with the backing of the Forum.
Comment From Michael McGlade
Willie - will you stand in the Mid Ulster election as an Independent candidate, or under the Ulster People’s Forum ticket?
William Frazer: Firstly, from the very start, I have never organised a protest. I have been asked to go and speak at quite a few of them, most of the time I don’t even know who is asking me and if you contact the police they will confirm that I tell everyone to keep it peaceful and within the law. The last thing we want to see if young people going to jail, especially for waving a flag when mass murderers have been let out of jail in the past.
Comment From guest
do you feel any shame or compassion for sending young people to jail?
William Frazer: Because it’s a fact of life that religion has been used in this country by the political parties and especially paramilitary organisations and a lot of our politicians seem to run away from the fact of who and what they are. I don’t make an apology for being a Protestant and I don’t expect anyone to apologise for being a Catholic. My problem lies with terrorists.
Comment From Guest
If religion is not an issue as you say, then why do you constantly refer ro ‘roman catholics’ and ‘the protestant people’ ?
William Frazer: It’s another political party. It’s representing the view of a lot of people who don’t agree with McGuinness and others being in Government. If I had to vote for a party at the minute it would be the TUV, that doesn’t necessarily mean I would join the party. We share many of the same views, but there are areas where I may be more understanding about the circumstances on the ground when it comes to how sometimes the law can be unfair or used wrongly. When a judge refuses bail to someone charged with waving a flag provocatively for example and someone on drugs charges may get bail there is something not right with the law. I would probably challenge the law more than Jim Allister - it doesn’t mean I would agree with breaking the law.
Comment From Portadown Orangeman
What is your view on the TUV?
William Frazer: What is wrong with flying the flag every day? If we have to look at Martin McGuinness and others who have been charged with terrorist offences sitting in government, who have agreed that this is part of the UK, surely it can’t be that offensive for them to see the flag flying in city hall. And city hall was actually there before Stormont.
Comment From Kilsally
Willie the Old Unionist Stormont only flew the Union flag on 15 designated day, Unionist dominated Lisburn council also only flies it on designated days - surely Alliance suggestion that legislation should be introduced so all councils fly it on designated days including the Mid Ulster councils like Cookstown and Magherafelt where no flag is flown?
William Frazer: I can only work on what I know to be fact. And most of what I talk about is to do with the south Armagh area where nearly 400 murders were carried out, 98 per cent of them unsolved. And that includes 110 murders by one gang, which also involves the Kingsmills Massacre and Tullyvallen Massacre.
There has been a one-sided approach as regards inquiries and investigations, Why are we not getting the same type of inquiries? These people were basically serial killers and mas murderers, but nobody seems to care. And at the same time everyone wants us to condemn what happened on Bloody Sunday. If there were innocent people shot on Bloody Sunday they deserve justice.
Comment From Eoghan
Mr Frazer in regards to your Bloody Sunday response, is it not true that you cannot support justice by denying it. Do you realise sometimes how one sided you really are?
William Frazer: I know for a fact, because we reported it five years ago to the Department of Agriculture. But it’s like when we told them the IRA had their own bottling plant in south Armagh we were laughed at - until it was discovered eight years later. People need to waken up the fact that where there is money to be made the IRA will be involved, especially in border areas.
Comment From Guest
Do you still think the IRA put horsemeat in Tesco’s burgers
William Frazer: I still don’t accept the findings of the Saville Equiry. If there were people shot on Bloody Sunday who were innocent of course they are entitled to justice. But it has to be remembered it was an illegal parade and there were petrol bombs and blast bombs being thrown. It was also stated that Martin Guinness may have had a machine gun but he was no threat to anyone, you can tell that to the Americans but don’t tell it to us. They’ve had their £200m spent on their enquiry. We (the victims in south Armagh for example) haven’t had a penny spent on ours. This one-sided approach has to stop, we talk about the wrongdoings of the British Government and Army, what about the wrongdoings of the IRA and the Irish Government. Perhaps if we were on a level playing field a lot more things could be worked out.
Comment From DB
Do You think the Bloody Sunday shootings were Murder?
William Frazer: I think people are misunderstanding when it comes to the Conflict centre. It’s not about ‘do we need a conflict centre?’ It is about not keeping the hospital wing where the hunger strikers died, which would be turned into a shrine by Republicans and used to glorify their terrorist campaign. They know they need to do that to justify their actions and allow them to rewrite history. That’s why we are so much against it. We are all on for talking about the conflict, but it has to be a balanced approach. We don’t have any Kingsmills or Teebane minibuses or La Mon hotels on site for people to visit so why should we have the hospital wing kept as a shrine?
Comment From North Belfast Sam
Do you think that by not having A CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION CENTRE a republician shrine as you have called it at the Maze site would help victims and their families move on
William Frazer: First off that’s your opinion. I am inundated with calls from people from the mainland, mostly Scotland, who are out supporting and organising their own protests to do with the flag. I have soldiers who served alongside young people from NI in Afghanistan who fully support the right to fly the flag of the country every day. We don’t put our lives on the line just on certain days over here - our lives are always on the line for the flag and our beliefs. And perhaps if it wasn’t under threat continuously, perhaps we wouldn’t need to express it as much.
Comment From UlstermaninEngland
Anoter question if I may WIllie: I think this flag campaign endangers the union for two main reasons. Do you agree with them?The case for the status quo is easily put and would be accepted by most Catholics. Do you not think your campagin alienates and angers those who could otherwise be convinced of the merits of the union? Ultimately the whole border issue will be settled in a referendum, and we will need as many pro-union votes as possible. Further to this, the protests are very embarrassing for me in England. The television images over here of youths wrapped in the flag with their faces covered alienates English people, who usually associate the flag with celebrations such as the Olympics and Jubilee. Such alienation will lead to apathy over Ulster’s position with in the union, and without public opinion a UK government may not make a concerted case to keep it
William Frazer: I think it’s actually unfortunate that ordinary nationalist people would see the hunger strikers in any type of freedom fighter’s role because some of those men carried out the most horrifying atrocities. I believe the majority of nationalist people supported republicanism when it came to the ballot box so that they would stop their terrorist campaign, not because they believed in what they were doing. How can you equate man who had links to the Kingsmills Massacre to a police officer killed in the line of duty?
Comment From Guest
does wille understand than many many many nationalists view the hungerstrikers in the same light that unionists view the british armed forces
William Frazer: That’s the whole idea of the Ulster People’s Forum - it’s not simply about being Protestant, it’s about being British and about what we have suffered through two World Wars and numerous conflicts. People seem to forget that when the UDR was formed 23% of it was Roman Catholic. It’s our right to remain British that is the issue here, not what religion you are.
Comment From T. Gorman
Srely terms such as “the Protestant People” are grossly oversimplified and don’t take into consideration internal differences of interest within?
William Frazer: FAIR has not sacked me. The funders said they would not fund the organisation if I was a director so I said I would stand to the side as director. But the group only agreed to that if I agreed to remain as spokesperson. Money was not their first concern. It was to seek justice.
Comment From Raymond Dalzell
Why did FAIR sack you?
William Frazer: The man that made that allegation, I asked him to bring me the proof. Unlike our political representatives I don’t get paid or receive money from anybody for doing anything in the name of my country
Comment From Mark Taylor
That night in North Antrim when you were challenged about collecting money for speaking, why did you look so guilty? Was it true? Had you taken money for your services?
William Frazer: It would take a while to answer that.. But I would say we are a people with a very proud history and culture, who republicans are trying to write out of history. And they’re not going to get away with it.
Comment From T. Gorman
Who are “the protestant people” and what exactly is it that unifies them?
William Frazer: Yes of course we want to see the flag treated with respect. But the problem is they won’t let us fly it from the flag poles. If it hadn’t been removed from City Hall there wouldn’t be as many flags flying as there are today in Northern Ireland. Any flag that is in tatters or dirty should removed and replaced.
Comment From UlstermaninEngland
Willie, when I come home to NI, I am saddened to see the union flag, the flag of our country, crudely lashed to lamp posts. I have seen flags in tatters, wrapped round the post and caught in trees. Can you please use whatever influence you have to ensure the flag is treated with respect it deserves and flown only from flagpoles?
William Frazer: At the minute all rule seems to be Dublin rule. The only problem with our own Government at the minute is every time we argue or try to hold them accountable they tell us they have a mandate from us, the people, to do what they are doing. Bad and all as direct rule would be at least our politicians can’t throw that in your face, that they have a mandate from us for our own destruction.
Comment From Jackie Hasslett
Do you disagree with those who say Direct Rule is Dublin Rule?
William Frazer: Fristly I put my trust in the Lord. And the fact that when I was so unwell, indeed some thought that I wasn’t going to live, that’s when the funders moved to try and destroy the victims group that I was part of. I just believe the Lord gave me the strength to get out of the bed and actually continue to take the stand that I am taking. It’s not easy at times but you hear the suffering of some of the widows and mothers of those killed during the Troubles it puts it into perspective.
Comment From James Laird
How do you deal with the pressure of so many events and also your recent health problems?
William Frazer: Regarding splitting the vote - the Unionist vote was split whenever they held the Referendum on the GFA. The majority of voters from a unionist background in Mid Ulster did not vote for the GFA. That’s why the voting turnout has gone down because people simply can’t go out and vote for something they don’t believe in. Even today Mike Nesbitt has called for a candidate who supports the spirit of the GFA. That’s not what I would represent but it doesn’t mean I don’t support peace. The feeling I’m getting from people in Mid Ulster is that they want someone who will stand up to Sinn Fein, not roll over.
Comment From George
Are you still intending to split the unionist vote by running against a unionist unity candidate in the Mid Ulster by-election?
William Frazer: Yes I will run in Mid Ulster and its because a number of people, especially victims, have said they have nobody to vote for. Unlike our political representatives I’m not in it for party politics, just for the good of the country. That’s why I never joined a party.
Comment From AJ
Will you run for election or continue to represent “the people” without a mandate from anyone?
William Frazer: The night club was sold off when I became a Christian. And the car is like everyone else, owned by a finance company - it’s just about paid for after five years.
In terms of the money nobody can put their hand on my shoulder and say money has gone missing. The only ones that seem to make those allegations are people from a republican background. It’s easy to make allegations, but where is the proof?
Comment From Phil Goodrich
Question to mr Frazer. Recently it was said that 350,000 funding you required had gone missing. Of course you denied it but as the director of fair a victims charity or group how did you manage to pay off the debt from the night club you ran in tandragee and buy and audi a4?
William Frazer: No I don’t class myself as a bigot. I have no love for the IRA, I have Catholic friends and I have also got family who are married to Roman Catholics. Just because somebody is a Roman Catholic does not mean they are a supporter of the Republican movement and the sick acts they have carried out in the name of the Catholic community. I wouldn’t have close friends who are nationalist but I know people from that background and I don’t have a problem with that. They may believe in a United Ireland, but through peaceful means. Whereas Republicanism is a completely different issue. Would anyone ask Gerry Adams if he was a bigot even though the IRA had killed nearly 500 Roman Catholics? (from research by FAIR victims group)
Comment From Anon
Do you class yourself as a bigot? Have you any nationalist friends?
William Frazer: The reason the flag should fly is because it represents the fact we’re British and represents our whole culture and identity, and the very reason we have been attacked by republicans for 40-odd years.
The IRA know that removing that flag is chipping away at part of our Britishness. Whenever they signed up to the Good Friday Agreement, they agreed Northern Ireland would remain part of the UK - that entails flying the flag of your country. On Buckingham Palace it flies when the Queen is in residence. As far as we’re concerned the city hall is our home and represents our country. Buckingham Palace is never going to be removed from the UK, whereas Sinn Fein continually try to remove everything British from Northern Ireland.
Comment From Anon
Why should the Union flag fly every day in Belfast Council - when it doesn’t even do that on Buckingham Palace?
William Frazer: I want to give them justice or at the least have the right to seek justice and also to stop the demonisation of the innocent victims, by Sinn Fein/IRA. Victims who include members of the security forces. The IRA know that they need to rewrite history to justify their terrorist activity, we can’t allow that to happen. We just want to tell the truth, to make the world aware of the suffering and pain that people did go through - on both sides.
Comment From Anon
What do you hope to achieve for victims of the IRA? Can they ever find peace given that their loved ones will never come back? What’s the point to all this?
William Frazer: We have still never been given full explanation. We were told that we had been given the wrong advice in the procurement but that was kept from us. Under the FOI we found that was the finding of the PPS.
OFMDFM no doubt was behind it, in my opinion. They control who gets what and they made ana ttempt to try and close us down I think because we weren’t singing from the same hymn sheet. There a number of other groups who are quite happy to take the money but not do the work.
Comment From mully
Did you ever get an answer to why yhe funds were stopped for your victims group. Do you think that Sinn Fein and the DUP were behind this?
News Letter: Webchat with Willie Frazer due to begin soon folks - thanks for your questions so far