Dungannon police ‘paralysed by fear’ over controversial Billy Wright poster

The Billy Wright poster
The Billy Wright poster

Dungannon police have been criticised over their handling of a loyalist poster glorifying LVF killer Billy Wright.

The PSNI have been under scrutiny after SDLP Patsy McGlone reported the controversial poster, which appeared in the Eastvale Avenue housing estate in the town, as a hate crime at the start of July.

It featured a photo of Wright, along with the words: “In proud memory of Brigadier Billy Wright”, and included the quote: “I would probably look back and say Cappagh was our best”.

It is understood that the original poster was removed after it was vandalised, and a replacement poster erected in its place, without the Cappagh reference.

Police have been accused of not removing the poster due to fears of a backlash from the loyalist community.

Superintendent Baird said: “The original sign has been removed. We are not commenting further regarding this matter.”

There was also anger when a senior officer said police “must attempt to achieve a balance between the rights of one community over another”.

The SDLP’s Patsy McGlone, who reported the original banner to police weeks ago, said he believes they have learned from the “public backlash to their previous insensitive and damaging remarks”.

“People here were shocked that such a vicious insult to victims was allowed to remain on public display while the police stood idly by.

“This cannot be allowed to happen again and the PSNI should not be paralysed by fear of offending those who engage in such hateful behaviour.”

IRA men, Dwayne O’Donnell, 17, Malcolm Nugent, 20, and John Quinn, 23, along with civilian Thomas Armstrong, died during a gun attack at Boyles’ Bar in Cappagh in 1991.

Alliance Justice Spokesperson, Trevor Lunn MLA, said: “There is nothing to balance in this case - murder is wrong, and we must all unite to reject the likes of this banner or similar memorials.