Willie Frazer handshake offer to GAA star Jarlath Burns

Willie Frazer said that he would like to meet Jarlath Burns
Willie Frazer said that he would like to meet Jarlath Burns

South Armagh victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer says he will consider shaking the hand of a former Armagh GAA captain who called for an end to attacks on Orange halls.

Speaking to the News Letter after an arson attack on an Orange Hall in Loughgall, Jarlath Burns, principal of St Paul’s High School in Bessbrook, said this week: “The burning down of Orange lodges is akin to something done by the Nazis or Klu Klux Klan. But Irish republicans are supposed to ‘cherish all the children of the nation equally’.”

Mr Burns said that he had been on his own “journey” as a republican and that his school wanted to hear from south Armagh Protestants about what it was like to live through the days of the Kingsmills and Tullyvallen massacres in the 1970s.

Mr Frazer told the News Letter that he would now like to meet Mr Burns in person.

“We very much welcome the fact that he is calling on republicans to respect our culture,” he said.

“If he can genuinely tell us that he did not agree with Kingsmills and Tullyvallen we would welcome that.”

He noted that Mr Burns had caused a backlash when he praised the record of the IRA in south Armagh during a rally for Martin McGuinness’s Irish presidential campaign in 2011.

“I would shake his hand if he could condemn the actions of the south Armagh IRA who murdered members of my family,” he said.

“I don’t expect him to praise the British establishment, but if he can condemn terrorist activity, then I think we can move forward.”