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Documentary reveals Reavey family’s faith and forgiveness

Whitecross man Eugene Reavey, whose three brothers were killed by the UVF’s infamous Glenanne Gang in 1976, shares the remarkable story of how his family chose peace instead of violence in a documentary which premieres in Belfast tonight (Monday December 17th). Guardians of the Flame examines how the families of Troubles’ victims used their faith to help end conflict and move towards peace.  

In the powerful documentary, Eugene reveals how his mother lit candles for her son’s killers and how his father led prayers for the two murderers and insisted there be no retaliation for the killings.

The Reavey family’s lives were torn apart on the night of the 4th January 1976 when two gunmen burst into their Whitecross home and began firing at brothers Brian (22), John Martin (25) and Anthony(17).

Brian and John Martin were killed instantly, with John Martin shot another 40 times after he fell to the floor from the initial shots. Seventeen year old Anthony died of his injuries three weeks later. Tonight’s documentary reveals how, on the night of the murders, Eugene’s father gathered his surviving family together to lead prayers for his sons’ murderers.

“He said they needed the prayers more than our boys because some day they’re going to have to answer to their maker,” said Eugene, revealing his father’s immense faith and forgiveness.  The Reavey’s father insisted there be no retaliation for his sons’ murders and begged his remaining sons not to join the IRA in the aftermath of the killings.  His wife, Sadie, also chose forgiveness and peace, lighting a candle at her sons’ graves for the killers, who she never blamed for orchestrating the attack.

The moving Guardians of the Flame documentary also recounts the heartbreaking story of Beryl Quigley, whose husband was murdered by the IRA in 1984 and Alan McBride, whose wife Sharon and father-in-law Desmond lost their lives in the Shankill bombing in 1993.  Both families also opted to channel their grief into forgiveness and reconciliation.

Guardians Of The Flame, which also features interviews with former deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon and musician Tommy Sands, premieres tonight at The Black Box in Belfast.