Assembly to debate Reavey murders

June 29, 2010

Having called for an Assembly debate on the 1976 murders of the three Reavey brothers in Whitecross, SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley says he has secured an adjournment debate for Wednesday next, 30th June.

Speaking on the subject, Mr Bradley said: “The Reavey murders have always been overshadowed, in more senses than one, by the Provisional IRA’s massacre of ten Protestant workers at nearby Kingsmill the following evening. Every murder needs investigation, every family needs truth and justice, but the issues involved in the Whitecross murders go to the heart of the brutal conflict which convulsed our society for more than 30 years. That is why I believe we need this debate now.

“Firstly, there is very clear evidence of collusion between elements in the RUC and UDR with the UVF in these murders. This was no chance encounter or passing of intelligence files – the Glenanne Gang, which was responsible for more than 70 murders, worked systematically for years with the direct assistance of high-ranking members of the security forces and the collaboration of others who cleared their way and covered up after them.

“Secondly, this collusion continued for long after the crime and its effects are still felt. For years, supporters of the Glenanne Gang in the security services continued to malign the memory of the victims by calling them Provos. They even spread the story that a surviving brother, Eugene, was responsible for the Kingsmill Massacre, putting his life at risk and subjecting his family to harassment. This campaign reached its height in 1999 when Ian Paisley repeated these slanderous accusations under the privilege of the House of Commons. He established a new wrong which to his disgrace he has not righted. This was a cause of tremendous pain to Mrs Reavey, the mother of the murdered boys who had to endure having her grief compounded by this unfounded slur on their memory. Ian Paisley’s recent elevation to the House of Lords means that he once again enjoys the privilege he so viciously abused.

“The facts of the Reavey case are well-known and undisputed by reasonable and fair-minded persons. They have been established by the Historical Enquiries Team, which has definitively stated that none of the Reaveys, living or dead, were involved in any paramilitary organisation or had part in any crime. I hope the Assembly can right a little of the wrong done by Ian Paisley in Westminster simply by recognising those facts.”

Full investigation

Speaking in advance of the debate, Sinn Féin’s Cathal Boylan has expressed his hope that the debate will lead to a full investigation of the case.

“These murders have gone unsolved for over 30 years. This is a gross affront to the Reavey family and one which must be addressed.  In light of the publication of the long awaited Saville Report into the conduct of the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday, I feel that now is the time for a full investigation into the circumstances which precluded the murder of these brothers.

“There is an avalanche of evidence to indicate that widespread collusion existed between the RUC and loyalist death squads which were facilitated by the highest ranking RUC officers.  There were four guns used in the Reavey brothers’ killings. We know that some of these weapons were also used in ten other murders, including the killing of three men at Donnelly’s bar in Silverbridge in 1975, and numerous other attacks,” Mr Boylan said.

“It is essential for truth recovery and to enable us to deal with the past that a full and proper investigation into loyalist death gangs such as the Glenanne Gang and collusion with British state forces is initiated immediately.”