plot revealed | 

Hard-line loyalists planned to murder unionist leader David Trimble with rocket launcher

The heavily armed terror team also had a Czech-made assault rifle, Russian hand grenades and two hand guns at its disposal.

Northern Ireland First Minister and Ulster Unionist Party (UUO) leader David Trimble© PA

Willie Frazer

Pastor Barrie Halliday, a close friend and confidante, of Willie Frazer’s photographed at Frazer’s grave in the garden of his Five Mile Hill Pentecostal Church, near Mount Norris, south Armagh

Hugh JordanSunday World

Protestant paramilitaries plotted to murder Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble as he inched towards sharing power with Catholics, the Sunday World can reveal.

It is claimed a hardline loyalist sect opposed to the Good Friday Agreement planned a rocket attack on the ground-breaking politician’s car minutes after it left the Trimble family home.

The heavily-armed terror team also had a Czech-made assault rifle, Russian hand grenades and two handguns at its disposal.

All of the weapons had been illegally imported into Northern Ireland by the Ulster Resistance group and were stored in an arms hide at Glenanne, south Armagh.

We have been told that David Trimble’s name topped a loyalist hit-list after he rejected a plea from border-based Protestants to step back from sharing power with nationalists and republicans at Stormont.

Full details of the assassination plot emerged for the first time this week, shortly after Lord Trimble’s funeral last Monday at Lisburn’s Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church.

militant

And we also learned that a delegation of militant loyalists – led by the now deceased victims campaigner Willie Frazer – challenged Trimble when they arrived uninvited at his home in Lisburn.

At the time, the unionist leader, a future Nobel laureate, was busy working on a blueprint for a new historic power-sharing government at Stormont.

And the visit to the Trimble home was seen as a last-ditch attempt by anti-agreement loyalists to pressurise the then leader of the largest unionist party into altering course.

According to well-placed sources, the veteran unionist politician invited the stern-faced visitors into his home to discuss the matter further.

A number of eye-witnesses maintain the exchange was ‘hot and heavy’, with Frazer accusing the politician and leading Orangemen of turning his back on victims of IRA violence.

But Trimble insisted the Good Friday Agreement had been overwhelmingly backed by public referenda on both sides of the border.

And when the UUP leader failed to convince the ‘border men’ – as he called them – he showed them the door.

An eyewitness revealed this week that as they returned to their cars, Frazer was heard to shout: “The victims’ families will never forgive you Trimble.”

Days later a secret loyalist plot to kill David Trimble was hatched.

“The men involved had access to an Ulster Resistance arms dump at Glenanne in south Armagh. And a hand-picked team of experienced operators – from various paramilitary groups – was put in place,” a veteran loyalist source told us this week.

“A hand-held RPG rocket launcher – secreted in bushes bordering the railway line – was to be fired at Trimble’s car as it slowed to join the main

Lisburn to Belfast Road at Lambeg.

“And a Czech-made CZ assault rifle and Russian RGD5 grenades were also to be used in the event of fire being returned as the men escaped,” he said.

But the shocking murder mission was stopped in its tracks when Willie Frazer removed the entire contents from an Ulster Resistance arms hide.

“Frazer lifted an RPG rocket launcher with warheads and an assault rifle. And later he came back and removed grenades and two handguns as well,” our source said.

“If the move to take out Trimble had gone ahead as planned, no unionist leader would put his name to a power-sharing deal,” he added.

Frazier died three years ago aged 59 after losing a battle with cancer.

His father and several of his uncles had been murdered by the IRA.

Willie Frazer – whose funeral was attended by leading DUP figures including Arlene Foster and Emma Little-Pengelly – passed on without publicly revealing details of the David Trimble murder plan.

crucial

But yesterday, his close friend and confidante, Pastor Barrie Halliday, said he was convinced Frazer’s intervention had saved Lord Trimble’s life at a crucial time in the history of Northern Ireland.

The clergyman spoke to us at Frazer’s grave in the garden of his Five Mile Hill Pentecostal Church, near Mount Norris, south Armagh.

But Pastor Halliday also insisted: “Willie also did what he did to save unionism. If the attack had gone ahead, Westminster would have cut us adrift. Of that I have no doubt.”

Pastor Halliday – who had previously served with the Ulster Defence Regiment in south Armagh – continued: “I wasn’t there myself, but I know what happened in Trimble’s home because Willie told me.

“Willie and the others had called at David Trimble’s home without an appointment. Trimble knew many of them personally and he invited them in.

“Willie had hoped to push David in a different direction. But things got very heated almost immediately.

“Willie accused Trimble of turning his back on victims of IRA violence. But Trimble insisted the time was right to push for peace.”

Frazer was the founder and main spokesman for the victims groupFamilies Acting for Innocent Relatives.

He campaigned for justice for those murdered in the Kingsmills Massacre, when 10 Protestant factory workers were gunned down by the IRA in January 1976.

But in what amounted to a near death-bed confession, he revealed to BBC reporter Mandy McAuley that he had previously operated as a loyalist gunrunner.

In BBC NI series Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History, she identified Frazer as a key member of the DUP-backed Ulster Resistance.

Following a bank robbery in Portadown, Ulster Resistance loyalists arranged for a large shipment of arms from South Africa.

Willie Frazer distributed rocket launchers, assault rifles and handguns right across Northern Ireland.

The BBC programme claimed guns delivered by Frazer had been used in up to 70 loyalist killings.

hjordan.media@btinternet.com


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