No peerage for Paisley without apology: Reavey

June 1, 2010

By Brónagh Murphy

The former DUP MP, Ian Paisley Snr, should not be given a peerage until he withdraws his comments and publicly apologises for unfounded remarks he made against Eugene Reavey eleven years ago, the Whitecross man has said.

In last week’s Examiner we reported how the HET exonerated the Reavey family from any connection to paramilitary or political links.  In 1999 Paisley used Parliamentary Privilege to claim Eugene Reavey masterminded the Kingsmill massacre.

In January 1976 John Martin, Brian and Anthony Reavey were murdered in their home by loyalists.  Just 24 hours later ten Protestant workers were shot dead at nearby Kingsmill.

Reavey has always refuted Paisley’s claim saying he was en route to Newry to collect the remains of his dead brothers at the time of the attack.  He has spent the ensuing years campaigning to clear his name.

Following intensive investigation carried out by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), its report confirmed that the Reaveys were completely innocent and cleared them from any involvement.  In the wake of this report, Eugene Reavey called on Paisley to publicly apologise for the remarks he made.  Mr Paisley has so far refused.

On Friday Ian Paisley was made a peer in the Dissolution Honours List in recognition of his contribution to politics.  However Eugene Reavey says this honour should be withheld until he acknowledges that the remarks he made were untrue and formally apologises.

“Ian Paisley abused parliamentary privilege in 1999 to accuse me of setting up the Kingsmill massacre. He claimed he had police sources. The Historical Enquiries Team has explicitly refuted the charge that I, my murdered brothers, or any member of my family were connected in any way with any paramilitary organisation or any crime,” Mr Reavey said.

“Nobody who has abused parliamentary privilege in this way should be given that privilege again in the House of Lords.  It is possible, indeed likely, that Paisley was set up by those who wished to cover their own tracks of collusion with the Glenanne Gang, which murdered the Reavey brothers and many others. But that cannot excuse what he did, putting the life of an innocent man at risk and causing continuing hurt and distress to a bereaved family.  He should not be given the chance to do it again until he has withdrawn and apologised.

“I have written to the Prime Minister, David Cameron and Deputy-Prime Minister, Nick Clegg asking them to refuse any honour to Mr Paisley until he has cleared my name,” Mr Reavey added.