THE Markethill-based organisation FAIR (Families Acting for Innocent Relatives) is staging a protest at a Sinn Fein walk commemorating the 25th anniversary of the eight IRA men shot dead by the SAS in Loughgall in May 1978.
The members of the East Tyrone Brigade of the Provisional IRA were gunned down as they launched a bomb attack on the village’s RUC station - an action that also killed a civilian, Anthony Hughes (36) from Caledon.
The Sinn Fein walk will be through the Sperrins on Saturday May 5, and there will be an £8 cover charge for food, with the organisers denying the “sponsored” label claimed by the protesters.
Willie Frazer, chief executive of FAIR, said, “The march is an abomination, organised by people forever saying that we should move out of the past, but who stay in the past when it suits them. They have no feeling for the innocent victims they murdered or for their families who will never get over the loss of their loved ones.
“This walk is glorifying ruthless IRA killers who were given a dose of their own medicine at Loughgall. We must always remember that Sinn Fein - who talk about a shared future - were in the vanguard of protesting against our recent planned walk (in February) from Mountnorris factory to Kingsmill, where 10 innocent, defenceless workers were gunned to death by the IRA in January 1976.”
He added that the joint SF-SDLP protest against the three-mile march resulted in the Parades Commission allowing just 20 people - two from the families of each Kingsmill victim - into the village of Whitecross. The main march would have been stopped half-a-mile from Whitecross (1.5 miles from the scene of the mass murder).
Mr Frazer added, “They wouldn’t even let the organiser of the parade - myself - through to Whitecross where I used to live and near where my father and two uncles were murdered by the Provos.”
As it turned out, the march was postponed due to the death of a sister of one of the victims, but Mr Frazer said that a new date was being set “and we will not accept these restrictions of the commission”.
He went on, “Sinn Fein is full of hypocrisy. They glorify their own killers - their armed section - and yet they oppose a march for innocent victims of their killers. It’s ludicrous.”
The Sinn Fein spokesperson refused to comment on the ethos of the planned walk, but said that Willie Frazer was quite entitled to hold a protest in a free society, “just as we are free to hold our walk - it isn’t a march, but a commemorative walk”.
Meanwhile, FAIR had planned a protest in Dublin, but this has been cancelled as they have been told that Taoiseach Enda Kenny has agreed to meet them and discuss their problems. “We appreciate that,” said Mr Frazer. “It promises to be a straight-talking meeting, but at least Mr Kenny has shown us the respect of a meeting.”