Troubles victims set to share their stories at ‘Bomb and Bullet Legacy’ event

October 8, 2018

The brother of three men murdered by the UVF’s infamous Glenanne Gang will take part in a powerful event this week where the family and friends of victims killed during the Troubles will share first-hand accounts about the enduring impact their murders have had on their lives.

Eugene Reavey’s three brothers, Anthony, Brian and John Martin, were gunned down in their Whitecross home in January 1976 by the notorious Glenanne Gang, which operated in the “murder triangle” area of counties Armagh and Tyrone.  Its members included British soldiers from the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), police officers from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and members of the Mid-Ulster Brigade of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

Mr Reavey will share the stage at “The Bomb and Bullet Legacy” event in the Sean Hollywood Arts Centre tomorrow night (Tuesday 9th Oct) with high profile victims Stephen Travers and Alan McBride.

Mr Travers lost three of his friends and fellow members of the Miami Showband when a loyalist gang opened fire on the group after stopping their bus as they were travelling home to Dublin after a gig in Banbridge in July 1975.  Alan McBride’s wife Sharon was one of nine people killed during the Shankhill Bombing, an IRA bomb attack on the Shankhill Road in Belfast in 1993.  All three victims believe there was state collusion in the murders.

The legacy talk, hosted by the Newry Inter-Church, is a presentation from the Truth and Reconciliation Platform (TaRP), the organisation founded by Eugene Reavey and Stephen Travers, which seeks to share the reality of victims’ experiences and “embrace reconciliation whilst standing alongside those who tirelessly campaign for justice and truth.”

According to TaRP Chairman Mr Travers, the organisation is rooted in the conviction that there is “no more valuable instrument of reconciliation than the testimony of the victim.”

Reconciliation and forgiveness is something Eugene says he learned first from his late mother, who, even in the horrific aftermath of her three sons’ murders, continued to light a candle in prayer for their killers. 

Speaking to The Examiner ahead of the legacy event, Mr Reavey underlined the importance of such a platform in providing a rare opportunity to hear the personal testimony of victims and their tireless campaign to seek the truth about the murders of their loved ones and see justice served.  Mr Reavey insists there was British intelligence involvement in all paramilitary operations carried out during the Troubles, and that embargoes on files and evidence are hampering justice being done.  He claims an 84 year embargo on the Reavey files, which would see them released in 2060, is a delaying tactic.

“It’s obvious, they’re waiting on everyone to die before the files are released,” he said, adding that he will speak more on the issue during the legacy event. 

In November last year, Mr Justice Treacy issued a High Court ruling compelling the PSNI to conduct  a ”lawful investigation and complete and publish an overarching report” into the Glenanne Gang.  A draft HET report into alleged security force collaboration with the gang was 80 % complete when it was shelved due to reported budgetary problems. To date police have yet to complete and publish the report. 

Newry solicitor Rory McShane and former Ireland rugby star Trevor Ringland will also be on the panel at tomorrow night’s free legacy talk which Eugene says “eradicates any hierarchy in victimhood.”

“That is important,” he says.  “We want the stories from so-called ‘both sides’ heard together to emphasise we are all the same in our suffering – my brother being murdered is not more important than someone else’s brother being murdered.  We are an integrated panel giving everyone the opportunity to come and join us and tell their story.”

The “Bomb and Bullet Legacy” talk at the Sean Hollywood Arts Centre takes place tomorrow night Tuesday 9th October from 7.15pm.  Admission is free.