Victims campaigner William Frazer dies aged 58

Tributes for ‘fearless’ advocate for victims of republican violence during the Troubles

William Frazer in Dublin in 2007. His father Bertie, a part-time member of the Ulster Defence Regiment  and a council worker, was murdered by the IRA in 1975. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

William Frazer in Dublin in 2007. His father Bertie, a part-time member of the Ulster Defence Regiment and a council worker, was murdered by the IRA in 1975. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Prominent Northern Ireland victims campaigner William Frazer has died after a long illness.

The 58-year-old from Co Armagh died in hospital on Friday.

Mr Frazer was a forthright advocate for victims of republican violence during the Troubles.

His father Bertie, a part-time member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and a council worker, was murdered by the IRA in 1975.

He was one of several members of Mr Frazer’s wider family who were killed by the IRA during the Troubles.

In 1998, he founded Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (Fair) to provide support for victims of republican violence.

He stood down when the group’s funding was halted in 2012.

Mr Frazer was charged by police after taking part in the contentious Union flag protests at Belfast City Hall in 2012.

At one subsequent court appearance, he arrived dressed as radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza, claiming he was being prosecuted using legislation designed to combat hardline Islamic preachers. The charges against him were ultimately dropped.

A polarising character, Mr Frazer had many supporters in the loyalist community but was seen as divisive by many republicans and nationalists. He once said he had received enough death threats in his life to paper the walls of his house with them.

Kingsmill killings

In recent years, Mr Frazer had been a regular attendee at the coroner’s court in Belfast for the long-delayed inquest for 10 Protestant workmen shot dead by republican gunmen at Kingsmill in south Armagh in 1976.

Paying tribute to Mr Frazer, former Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy said: “William Frazer was in many respects a child of the Troubles.

“The cruel murder of his father and five other family members by Republicans shaped his life and later career. He himself served in the UDR and he knew the cost of that service to his own family and numerous friends and colleagues.

“I worked with William over many years. 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 – but they had not lived the experience that he had, growing up in South Armagh and the loss of so many family members.”

‘His struggle is over’

Leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice party Jim Allister said: “I am profoundly sorry to learn of the passing of William Frazer. 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. In the face of many trials and setbacks, William was always able to come back.

“Now his struggle is over, it behoves politicians to honour his memory by ensuring that the past is not rewritten. We must all ensure that innocent victims are not forgotten.

“I extend my heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends and, like countless others across Northern Ireland, will remember them in my prayers in the coming days.”

Mr Frazer is survived by his wife, Ann, and son, Phillip. – PA