Willie Frazer: I want ‘action not words’ after bonfire mocks father’s murder by IRA

Victims’ campaigner William Frazer has said that while he welcomes widespread condemnation of a bonfire sign mocking his father’s death, he warned that he takes Sinn Féin’s comments with a “pinch of salt”.

A sign erected on the anti-internment bonfire at Parkhead, Newry made reference to the murder of Bertie Frazer, who was killed by the IRA in 1975.

An image of the bonfire at Parkhead, Newry

An image of the bonfire at Parkhead, Newry

The incident is being treated as a hate crime by the PSNI, and has been condemned by the DUP, UUP, SDLP, Sinn Féin, the minister of foreign affairs in Dublin, and church leaders.

Mr Frazer’s car was attacked when he turned up to take pictures of the bonfire.

He said: “Last night, when I went over to get a photograph taken of the bonfire - and I was nowhere near the bonfire, I was out on the main road - they started stoning the car and bottling it.

“Thankfully, I was able to get away. I hear people saying there was only a small minority, but there was hundreds at it.”

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Police also received a report that a number of bottles were thrown at a car in the area last night.”

Mr Frazer continued: “The local community knows, this is not a one off. I get threatened daily. I get the car stoned, I get bottles thrown at me.”

He added: “It’s not that long ago a man got four months suspended for threatening to kill me. I am encouraged by the condemnation.”

Mr Frazer, who lost a number of family members during the Troubles, said he was “heartened” by the condemnation of the sign on the bonfire but said he would “rather see actions than words coming from Sinn Féin”.

“I would commend anybody who’s condemned it, but anything coming from Sinn Féin I take with a pinch of salt,” he said.

“If you look at the issue of McCreesh Park in Newry, the way they have heightened the tensions there. There was an opportunity there to improve community relations, and they didn’t take it.

“They would rather stand by the people that murdered and butchered the people that we represent. With the greatest respect, I’d rather see actions than words coming from Sinn Féin.

“As somebody who’s lived in South Armagh, that’s all we ever hear - words.”

He continued: “They have to do something to build that trust, to stop the sectarian hatred that’s going on.

“I’m very encouraged, especially with the Irish government condemning it.”

Sinn Féin MP Mickey Brady had issued a statement condemning the incident, saying: “Such actions are hate crimes and have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with republicanism or the legacy of internment. It is anti-republican, and does not celebrate any aspect of Irish national identity or cultural traditions.”