Billy Wright banner inflames tensions in Dungannon

The Billy Wright poster
The Billy Wright poster

A large banner eulogising murdered LVF leader Billy Wright has been hung from a street lamp next to a loyalist bonfire in Dungannon.

The controversial memorial sign -which has inflamed tensions in the Co Tyrone community – carries a picture of the notorious paramilitary leader along with the words: “In proud memory of Brigadier Billy Wright’ and a quotation attributed to him that goes: “I would look back and say Cappagh was probably my best.”

This is understood to be a reference to the killing of four men in the small Tyrone village of Cappagh on March 3, 1991.

The book Lost Lives, which provides accounts of the thousands of killings during the Troubles, lists three of the dead men as IRA members.

It lists the fourth, 52-year-old Thomas Armstrong, as simply a Catholic civilian.

The book attributes the attack to the UVF – from which Wright’s LVF developed.

It states that a loyalist gang was apparently waiting to open fire on a pub when the three IRA men pulled up in a car.

Upon seeing them arrive, the gang “turned their fire on the car”.

LVF leader Wright, who was known as King Rat, is thought to have ordered or participated in around 20 killings, most of which were blatantly sectarian. He was killed by the INLA in 1997.

A large pyre in the adjoining estate is set to be burnt on Saturday night ahead of the traditional Orange march.

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone, who has condemned the sign for Wright as an “outright sectarian hate crime”, has made a formal complaint to the police.

“It is highly despicable that anyone should brag about Billy Wright and his activities, specifically in relation to the sectarian murders in Cappagh”, he said. “This is a hate crime, and I am calling for it to be removed and anyone associated with printing and erecting it should be investigated for committing a hate crime.”

The Assembly member also called on right-thinking people in the community to condemn the sign and for anyone with influence to exert it and have the sign removed as soon as possible.

Controversy was stoked last year when a bonfire in Moygashel was adorned with an effigy of former MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew.

At the time, Gildernew described the effigy as a ‘disgusting display of bigoted sectarianism’ and called on Unionist leaders to take action against bonfires carrying inflammatory signs or emblems