William Little was reared on the family farm at Killyroo, outside Newtownbutler. He qualified as a primary teacher and taught for a period in South Antrim, before being appointed as Principal in 1988 of a State school in Newtownbutler. William describes the hardening of attitudes among both communities and the tensions which existed in that town on his return there at this time. He worked closely with Thomas Gunn, Principal of St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School, and they organised cross community initiatives for schoolchildren, though he recalls meeting with some opposition from parents in relation to this endeavour. William’s first wife died in 1986, and in 1994 he married Hazel McVitty, whose husband John had been shot by the IRA in 1986 in what William believes was an act of ethnic cleansing. In 1996, William explains that Newtownbutler became a centre of protest by Sinn Fein/IRA, who actively incited tension within the local community. For many years he had been a member of the Newtownbutler District Orange Lodge and has been actively involved in negotiations with the Parades Commission and local residents’ representatives. The social aspect within the community of Newtownbutler suffered greatly during the Troubles, and William maintains that it has not yet fully recovered.
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