Revelations that the late Willie Frazer, one of the Northern Ireland’s best known victims’ campaigners, helped ferry guns that were used in over 70 loyalist murders will have shocked and disturbed many within the victims’ community.
Mr Frazer, who died in June, had long been lauded for his courage in tackling republicans in his native south Armagh. Despite threats to his own life, he continued to call out the IRA’s murderous campaign that claimed the lives of five of his relatives, including his own father.
To this newspaper, and indeed to many of the victims of IRA violence that he worked closely with in the south Armagh area, he was seen as a defender of victims, as someone not prepared to turn a blind eye to terrorism.
However, the Spotlight programme broadcast last night has revealed an entirely different side to Mr Frazer. After the murder of his family members, the Markethill man became involved with loyalist terrorists and forged a close relationship with the infamous UDA commander Johnny Adair.
In an interview in today’s News Letter, Pastor Barrie Halliday, a close confidant of Mr Frazer, said that Mr Frazer wanted it to become known after his death that he had been a “serious player” in the fight against the IRA.
However, Mr Frazer was misguided in thinking he would be respected or lauded for his role in supplying weapons that could have been used in some of the worst atrocities in the Troubles, including the sectarian murders of Halloween revellers at the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel, Co Londonderry in 1993 and the Loughinisland massacre the following year.
Mr Frazer, like so many Protestants in south Armagh, saw his family torn apart by the IRA, and for that he was entitled to our sympathy. However, it is sad to know now that such a strong campaigner for the rights of victims had been secretly backing terrorism himself. But the victims of the IRA who were helped by Mr Frazer but unaware of his own terrorist role are no less worthy of our support and sympathy because of these revelations. They cannot be responsible for his actions, actions which were morally equivalent to the republican killers who took their loved ones.