Erection of banner to Miami Showband killer criticised

editorial image

The erection of a banner in memory of a UVF killer involved in the Miami Showband massacre has been criticised.

The banner to UVF killer Wesley Somerville which has been put up in Co Tyrone.

He died with fellow loyalist Harris Boyle as they placed a bomb on a minibus carrying the Miami Showband near Banbridge on July 31, 1975.

The bus had earlier been stopped at a bogus UDR checkpoint.

After the explosion a UVF gang - some of them also UDR members - opened fire on the band, killing lead singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy and wounding two others.

The picture of Somerville was hung from a lamppost in Moygashel alongside a separate banner glorifying the UVF.

It includes an image of two armed and masked members of the UVF with the words: “Mid Ulster Brigade UVF, Moygashel. In memory of our fallen volunteers.”

There was controversy last month after a banner glorifying LVF founder Billy Wright which gloated about the deaths of four Catholic men was put up by loyalists in nearby Dungannon.

The PSNI came in for criticism for refusing to remove the banner.

Speaking to the Irish News Mid Ulster assembly member Patsy McGlone said he expects little response from police “given what they didn’t do in relation to the Billy Wright poster.”

“The reality is the gang headed up by Somerville, just like the gang headed up by Billy Wright, murdered many innocent people and if there are any sensitivities or rights to be balanced it’s about being sensitive and caring to those families involved,” he said.

“That should be the role of balancing rights rather than being seen to pander to extremists.”