Stormont department seeks PSNI/RUC advice about removing Billy Wright flags in Dungannon

Flags with Billy Wright’s image have been put up on a main road into Dungannon

A  Stormont department has sought advice from police about the removal of flags glorifying loyalist Billy Wright in Co Tyrone.

Flags bearing the image of the former LVF leader were recently put up on lampposts on the main road into Dungannon from the M1.

They have been erected on either side of the busy route near a junction leading to Dungannon Park, a popular destination for local people.

A former UVF commander in Mid Ulster, Wright went on to found the LVF.

He was shot dead inside the H-Blocks by the INLA in 1997.

LVF Guard of Honour watching over Billy Wright as he lies in his coffin. After being murdered by members of the INLA in the H.Blocks, of Long Kesh.

Cookstown man Ruairi Cummings called last week for the flags to be removed.

He was 17 when LVF gunmen seriously injured his father Christy and killed another man, Seamus Dillon, outside the Glengannon Hotel in Dungannon in December 1997.

Uniformed volunteers of the Irish National Liberation Army or INLA in Derry in the North of Ireland

He was standing just feet away when the shooting took place.

The Department for Infrastructure last night said: “The department has sought advice from the PSNI on removing these flags.”

Chief Inspector Michael McDonald said: “As a police service we recognise the hurt and frustration that can be caused when a particular flag or banners appear, however, we are compelled in law to consider the legislation available to us.

“Whilst these flags may be perceived as offensive and distasteful, the erection does not in itself breach the law, however we are making efforts to engage with the local community in relation to this matter.”

Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew said the flags have “caused hurt and offence to many in the area” and should be removed.

“This has been done deliberately to be hurtful, provocative and offensive,” he said.

Independent councillor Barry Monteith has also called for their removal.

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Connla Young for the original story 

Trial of double murderer and ex-leading loyalist murderer ‘Winkie’ Rea is delayed on medical grounds

CHARGES: ‘Winkie Rea’

The non-jury trial of former leading loyalist Winston Rea has been postponed so he can undergo a series of medical tests.

Rea may have to undergo MRI or CT scans for a “long-standing illness”, Belfast Crown Court heard yesterday.

Defence counsel Arthur Harvey QC said the 67-year-old, of Springwell Crescent in Groomsport, Co Down, has also been examined by a neurological psychiatrist.

Rea was arraigned in October 2017 and pleaded not guilty to all 19 charges said to have been committed on dates between 1973 and 1996.

Included in the charges faced by ‘Winkie’ Rea are conspiring to murder Catholic men John Devine in July 1989 and John O’Hara in April 1991.

Mr Devine (37), was shot in front of his son in west Belfast while Mr O’Hara, a 41-year-old taxi driver, was lured to his murder in the south of the city.

Rea has also been charged with conspiring with others to threaten to kill LVF leader Billy Wright in August, 1996.

He also pleaded not guilty to firearms and other terror-related charges, including conspiring to possess firearms secured from the Ulster Resistance paramilitary group on dates between November, 1986 and October, 1994.

He is further charged with encouraging the murder of “persons working in shops selling An Phoblacht in republican and nationalist areas” between November, 1977 and October, 1994.

Rea, who was not in court for the proceedings, was due to stand trial on all charges early next month.

At yesterday’s review hearing, Mr Justice Colton heard that Rea had recently been examined by consultant psychiatrist Dr Helen Harbinson about his “cognitive ability” for the trial over a “long standing illness”.

Arthur Harvey QC said that three months ago Rea had a pacemaker device fitted to his heart which had “created a significant number of complications for the MRI and CT scans”.

He added that a medical practitioner had advised the defence that if the scans were to be carried out “eight doctors would have to be present for the removal of the heart pacemaker”.

The defence QC said Rea “will consent to any examination by experts appointed by the prosecution”.

Prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC said he was mindful that “the families of multiple alleged victims will have been preparing themselves” ahead of next month’s trial, adding the provision of expert reports could cause “further delays for a considerable period”.

He urged Mr Justice Colton to fix a new date for the trial in the current court term.

Mr Justice Colton directed that a consultant neurological psychiatrist’s report on Rea be served on the prosecution within three weeks.

The judge said he was requesting the “full co-operation” of all defence medical experts in the case, urging them to comply with his directions which were “in the public interest of the trial process”.

The judge listed the trial November 12 this year.

With many thanks to the: BelfastTelegraph for the original story.

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