23 February 2006

Loyalists may carry Dublin bomber pictures

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes

Organisers of a loyalist march through Dublin have said they cannot guarantee that images of a man accused of murdering 26 people in the city will not not be displayed during the demonstration.
Speaking to Daily Ireland yesterday, Love Ulster organiser Willie Frazer said: “I can’t give a guarantee a photograph of Robert McConnell will not be carried because I wouldn’t be against anyone carrying Robert’s photograph.”

Robert McConnell was a dual member of the Ulster Defence Regiment and Ulster Volunteer Force. He murdered scores of Catholics in the 1970s.
He played a part in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings in which 33 people died. Twenty-six died in the Dublin attack.
Speaking in 1999, John Weir, a former member of the RUC with whom Robert McConnell went on murder missions, implicated him in a further eight killings.
The mass murderer was shot dead by the IRA in 1976. Images of him have been carried at previous rallies organised by Mr Frazer’s victims group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives.
Despite the weight of evidence linking McConnell to at least 41 sectarian murders, Mr Frazer defended the killer’s reputation. “Anybody I know who knew Robert would say there is no way he was involved in anything. He was involved with the security forces and he helped the SAS and stuff like that but a lot of people would say that was just part of his job,” said Mr Frazer.
Relatives of those murdered in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings criticised Mr Frazer. Margaret Irwin of the Justice for the Forgotten group said his defence of McConnell was “very insensitive”.
She said: “We have very good information that McConnell was involved with the gang who we are convinced carried out the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
“We believe McConnell was involved in up to 55 murders. There can be no doubt he was heavily involved with loyalist paramilitaries.”
Up to 1,000 loyalists and six bands are expected to take part in Saturday’s Love Ulster parade along O’Connell Street. The march is to start at 12.30pm and is expected to last one hour.
Orange Order members will take part but will not wear sashes or collarettes.
Yesterday morning, Republican Sinn Féin held a press conference in Dublin at which the party unveiled plans to protest against the march. The Continuity IRA has also vowed to disrupt the parade.
Love Ulster held a victims rally in Belfast last October. The event was widely criticised because it failed to give any mention to those who had suffered at the hands of loyalists and the state.
Loyalists paramilitaries such as Ulster Defence Association leader Jackie McDonald helped launch the Love Ulster campaign last September.

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