Hundreds of mourners are expected to gather in the Co Armagh townland of Mountnorris today to pay their respects at the funeral of terrorist victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer.
Mr Frazer, who dedicated much of his adult life to campaigning on behalf of victims of republican terrorism, passed away peacefully in Craigavon Area Hospital on Friday afternoon surrounded by his family.
The 58-year-old, who lived in Markethill, had fought a lengthy battle against cancer.
An outspoken supporter of innocent victims for over 20 years, his outlook was defined by the fact that his father, two uncles, two cousins and a brother-in-law were all murdered by the IRA.
He was the leader of Markethill-based victims’ group the Family Research and Policy Unit (FRPU) and before that had led Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR).
A family notice described Mr Frazer as “a dearly loved husband, a devoted father, a proud son and much loved brother”. It said he will be “sadly missed and lovingly remembered by the entire family circle”.
Mr Frazer’s funeral will leave his Tandragee Road home at 12.45pm for a service at Five Mile Hill Pentecostal Church, Mountnorris Road, near Bessbrook at around 2.15pm.
Reacting to news of his passing on Friday, tributes were paid to Mr Frazer by other victims’ campaigners, community activists and leaders of political unionism including DUP leader Arlene Foster, her UUP counterpart Robin Swann and Ulster Unionist peer Lord Empey.
Mrs Foster said Mr Frazer “feared no-one and would never be silenced from speaking up for the causes he believed most passionately in”, while Mr Swann commented: “Having got to know William over recent years, his commitment to supporting victims could not be questioned. I want to pass on my sympathies to his family.”
Former Newry and Armagh UUP MLA Danny Kennedy said: “We didn’t always agree and sometimes we differed in our approach to political developments, but I liked and respected him. He was fearless in his approach and some people didn’t either like or appreciate that.”
TUV leader Jim Allister added: “Now his struggle is over it behoves politicians to honour his memory by ensuring that the past is not rewritten. We must all ensure innocent victims are not forgotten.”
Over the weekend many more tributes flooded in, with ex-Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson among those expressing their sadness at Mr Frazer’s passing.
“Willie and his family suffered much over many years from naked republican terrorist violence,” he said.
“He personally and purposefully carried the torch for the many innocent victims left widowed, orphaned and utterly devastated by the evil deeds of terrorists and criminals.
“My deepest sympathy goes to Willie’s wife and family.”
Mr Frazer, who is survived by his wife Ann and son Philip, will be laid to rest in the graveyard adjoining the church.