POLICE advised supermarket giant Asda not to remove tributes to a loyalist double killer from a Belfast store, it has been claimed. Seaneen McErlane, daughter of one of Billy Hunter‘s victims also expressed her ” extreme disappointment ” last night that a UVF wreath was allowed to remain for a week after his death.
Hunter, who was jailed in 1978 for the murders of Catholic brothers John (29) and Thomas McErlane (19), doused himself in petrol last month before setting it alight. In the days afterwards Asda was criticised for not removing a ” shrine ” to the sectarian killer outside the Shore Road store where he worked, as well as opening a book of condolence inside the main entrance. One customer has now revealed a response he received from Asda, posting it on a Facebook page calling for a global boycott of the branch. ” Based on the advice of the PSNI, and as the tributes were led by the local community, we felt it was appropriate to allow them to manage these,” Asda was quoted as saying. The retailer did not replay to questions from The Irish News yesterday. However, a spokeswomen for the PSNI confirmed police had ” liaised closely ” with Asda. ” As is normal procedure with any tributes left after any death, items and messages are allowed to be left by the local community before being passed to the family of the deceased. Police would only ever remove a tribute if we received a complaint from the family.”
POLICE CRITICISED FOR TELLING ASDA BOSSES : DON’T REMOVE TRIBUTES TO SECTARIAN DOUBLE MURDERER
POLICE have been criticised after claims that they advised Asda bosses not to remove tributes to a UVF double killer from outside a North Belfast store.
Dozens of tributes to Billy Hunter, including one from Tiger’s Bay UVF, were left outside the Shore Road supermarket where he worked. The 56-year-old doused himself in petrol and set it alight at Ballywalter Road in Millisle, Co Down, on August 24 and died later in hospital. Hunter was jailed for 14 years in 1978 for murdering John McErlane (29) and his brother Thomas (19) in North Belfast in May 1975. The two Catholic men were shot dead after being lured to a flat in Mount Vernon to play cards with workmates. In the days after Hunter’s death Asda was criticised for failing to remove the ” shrine ” erected in memory of him outside the store and for allowing a book of condolence to be opened inside the store. The company received dozens of complaints from members of the public about its handling of the controversy. One man has posted a response he received from Asda on a Global Boycott Asda Shore Road Facebook page. Asda did not replay to questions from The Irish News yesterday.
Seaneen McErlane, a daughter of John’s, says her family have no objections to ordinary tributes and cards left in memory of Hunter. She said she had a ” major issue ” with Asda and police facilitating ” a UVF poppy wreath to remain on their premises for a period of a week “. ” This was the organisation to which Mr Hunter belonged and that executed my father and uncle and he was totally unrepentant,” Ms McErlane said.” Given that the McErlane family in 2010 received a guarantee that no such situation would ever be allowed to be tolerated on their premises Asda have denied their principles.”
” I HAVE EXPERIENCED AN EXTREME SENSE OF DISAPPOINTMENT THAT IN THIS DAY AND AGE AND IN THE MIDST OF A SO-CALLED CEASEFIRE ONE CAN ONLY REACH THE CONCLUSION THAT THIS COUNTRY IS STILL DICTATED BY PARAMILITARY ORGANISATIONS “
Ms McErlane also voiced her disappointment with police. ” It is the job of the PSNI to remove any paraphernalia which causes intimidation or incitement to hatred and yet these objects remained,” she said. ” I have experienced an extreme sense of disappointment that in this day and age and in the mist of a so-called ceasefire one can only reach the conclusion that this country is still dictated by paramilitary organisations.” In the days before Hunter’s funeral politicians criticised police for allowing loyalists to close off the Shore Road during a vigil in memory of the killer. Police confirmed that they had ” liaised ” with Asda. ” Police were made aware of tributes being left outside the store on the Shore Road,” a spokeswomen said. ” As is normal procedure with any tributes left after any death, items and messages are allowed to be left by the local community before being passed to the family of the deceased. ” Police would only ever remove a tribute if we received a complaint from the family. ” We can confirm the PSNI did liaise closely with the store on this matter.”
WITH MANY THANKS TO : CONNIE YOUNG, IRISH NEWS, PICTURES BY FENIAN & DERRY SCEAL.
PROBLEM WILL NOT JUST GO AWAY
ASDA and Walmart’s decision not to engage so far with the family of John and Thomas McErlane will be criticised by many.
No doubt some observers will view their delayed reaction as disrespectful. Their reason for not meeting the McErlane’s to date could be the product of what some will see as a misplaced strategy of believing that if they keep their heads down the problem will go away. Seaneen McErlane has remained dignified since her father’s killer, Billy Hunter, took his own life in dramatic circumstances last month. Her measured use of language and reasonable requests will have impressed onlookers and won her sympathy in many quarters. Evidence of the sense of solidarity felt by Protestants and Catholics towards the McErlane family can be seen in the growing membership of a social media site promoting a Global Boycott. However, the question many will ask is : Will the company’s top executives wait until they are forced to literally count the cost of their delayed reaction before they decide to grant this grieving family an explanation for the decisions they have made since Billy Hunter’s death ?
WITH THANKS TO : CONNIA YOUNG, IRISH NEWS.
FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW AND JOIN THE FACEBOOK PAGE CALLING FOR A GLOBAL BOYCOTT OF ASDA :https://www.facebook.com/groups/278698082244536/
- Asda Global Boycott !…. (fiannaiochta.wordpress.com)
- Family of murder victims may sue Asda over loyalist tributes (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- We are letting the community manage these [i.e. tributes to UVF man] (sluggerotoole.com)
- ” Police Do Not Want to Lift Ira Veil of Secrecy ” ! (fiannaiochta.wordpress.com)
- Shock as double killer Billy Hunter burns himself to death (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Tributes to UVF double killer William Hunter (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)