Northern Ireland

Willie Frazer, founder of Families Acting for Innocent Relatives, dies

Willie Frazer at the Kingsmills memorial Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Willie Frazer was a well known loyalist campaigner for victims of republican violence

Victims campaigner Willie Frazer has died. He was 58.

He was the founder of Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (Fair), a group set up in 1998 to support victims of republican violence.

Mr Frazer stood down from the group in 2012 after its funding was frozen.

His father Bertie, a part-time member of the Ulster Defence Regiment, was killed in an IRA gun attack in 1975. He was one of several family members murdered by republicans.

Mr Frazer was also involved in the flag protests at Belfast City Hall after the council decided only to fly the union flag on designated days in 2012.

He faced several allegations of misspending cash given to his victims group with funding being withdrawn more than once. He dismissed the claims as political.

Abu Hamza attire

In February 2013, Mr Frazer was charged with three counts of taking part in an unnotified public procession and obstructing traffic in a public place.

Those charges were dropped in May 2014, but at one court appearance he arrived dressed as radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza.

Wearing a black robe, skullcap, fake beard, eye-patch and hooked hand, Mr Frazer was protesting at being charged under legislation that, he claims, was brought in to deal with militant Islamic preachers.

He said the only people in the United Kingdom to be charged under these "hate preaching laws" had been peaceful Protestant or Christian protesters from Northern Ireland.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Mr Frazer dressed as Muslim cleric Abu Hamza for a 2013 court appearance

Mr Frazer was also a spokesman, along with Jamie Bryson, for the Ulster People's Forum, an unelected group set up in the wake of the union flag protests.

In 2015, he protested against the arrival of Syrian refugees in Northern Ireland.

"The last thing we need is to bring people into this country who do not integrate into our community, who do not believe in Christianity," he said.

Electoral challenges

Mr Frazer contested a number of elections, but failed to get elected on any occasion.

In the 1998 Assembly elections he stood for the Ulster Independence Movement in Newry and Armagh, getting 933 first preference votes: The quota was 7,734.

Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption Willie Frazer unsuccessfully contested seats in both Assembly and General Elections

Five years later he stood as an independent in the same constituency, polling just 632 first preference votes. In 2007 he got just 605.

In the 2010 General Election he got 656 votes. The Newry and Armagh seat was won by Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy who polled 18,857 votes.

In August 2018, Mr Frazer spoke of his "disgust" at a sign placed on an anti-internment bonfire in Newry, County Down.

The sign, which was widely condemned by politicians, said: "Willie Frazer have you found your daddy yet?"

His death was announced on Friday evening. He died in hospital surrounded by his family after a long battle with cancer.

TUV leader Jim Allister paid tribute to Mr Frazer and said politicians must honour his memory by "ensuring that the past is not rewritten".

He said: "William's passion for innocent victims and desire to honour the memory of those in his own family who paid the supreme sacrifice at the hands of terrorists is beyond question.

"We must all ensure that innocent victims are not forgotten".

His fellow campaigner Jamie Bryson said: "Willie Frazer died as he lived, fighting until the very end."

DUP Assembly member Jim Wells added: "I have never met anyone as brave in my life. He endured so much at the hands of republicanism but never gave in to their threats and intimidation. He will be greatly missed."

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