SDLP MLA refuses to meet PSNI officer about Billy Wright banner

PACEMAKER BELFAST  07/07/2016: 
A banner on a light pole in Memory of Billy Wright in Dungannon.
Picture By: /Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 07/07/2016: A banner on a light pole in Memory of Billy Wright in Dungannon. Picture By: /Pacemaker Press

An SDLP MLA who lambasted a loyalist banner to killer Billy Wright has refused to meet a senior police officer regarding the matter.

Former SDLP deputy leader Patsy McGlone had been very critical of Inspector Keith Jamieson who claimed some people will not be offended by the banner which gloated about the murder of four Catholic men.

The Mid Ulster assembly member turned down an invitation to meet Dungannon based inspector Keith Jamieson last month.

Inspector Jamieson’s comments were criticised by the nationalist community after a banner depicting LVF founder Billy Wright appeared to gloat about the murder of four men in Co Tyrone in 1991.

Wright, from Portadown, is believed to have been behind dozens of sectarian murders in the north Armagh area and throughout mid Ulster.

Details of the snub emerged in the Irish News as chief constable George Hamilton is set to be quizzed about the controversy when the Policing Board meets later today.

Nationalists reacted angrily after inspector Jamieson said the Billy Wright banner will be seen as offensive by some, but not by others.

He also said the force “must attempt to achieve a balance between the rights of one community over another” after it was criticised by the mother of UVF murder victim Dwayne O’Donnell.

The 17-year-old was one of three IRA members killed during a loyalist gun attack at Boyle’s Bar in Cappagh, near Dungannon, in March 1991.

Republicans Malcolm Nugent (20) and John Quinn (23), were also shot dead along with civilian Thomas Armstrong (52) when the loyalist gunmen struck.

Mr McGlone branded the officer’s remarks as “sick” and called on Inspector Jamieson to withdraw them.

The banner included an image of Wright and read: “In proud memory of Brigadier Billy Wright” and carried the quote ‘I would look back and say Cappagh was probably my best.’

Mr Jamieson later invited Mr McGlone to meet him to discuss the situation and explain the PSNI position.

However, Mr McGlone declined the invitation.

In response he wrote: “I have read your email as I have comments in the media attributed to yourself,” he said.

“As those comments ‘explaining’ the PSNI position have too become a significant matter of concern to myself and many in the community (and are) currently referred to the Policing Board - I do not believe a meeting with yourself would contribute in any meaningful way.”

Mr McGlone said he decided not to meet the police officer because “the meeting would have been about him and none of that was very meaningful”.