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Political system is failing victims’ families – Eugene Reavey

The brother of three Whitecross men shot dead by loyalists 40 years ago today (Monday) has slammed Northern Ireland’s politicians for the current impasses on legacy cases and says the political system here has completely failed all of the families of victims of the Troubles.

Eugene Reavey, whose brothers John Martin (24), Brian (22) and Anthony (17) were gunned down by a UVF gang in a sectarian attack on their rural home on 4th January 1976, spoke to The Examiner ahead of the 40th Anniversary of the attack, vowing to continue his fight for justice for his murdered brothers despite the significant legal and political setbacks suffered during the protracted campaign.

“With the ongoing political impasse on the past there is an ever increasing need for legal intervention to try and resolve the need for families to find comfort,” Mr Reavey said.

“The political system in Northern Ireland has failed not only the Reavey family, not only the Glenanne families, but all the victims’ families in Northern Ireland.  We’ve been seeking justice for forty years now and have been through various investigations and talks. I’ve been through the HET investigation and the Police Ombudsman investigation.  We have fought for legal aid for years to no avail, and have had the Haas and O’Sullivan talks end without a conclusion.  Now we have a system with no coroners and a Fresh Start Agreement, which brought about a political impasse on legacy issues, which completely betrays victims of the past.

“The Reavey family was traumatised forty years ago when the murders happened. We have been traumatised every time each one of these investigations fails and re-traumatised continually as every time we get our hopes built up that we are getting somewhere, a political excuse is found to block proceedings. I really question the sincerity of the parties involved and my faith in the political system is at an all time low,” he added.

Mr Reavey says that, away from the political arena, the main areas the Reavey family are concentrating on in their pursuit of justice are: an ongoing Judicial Review into alleged state collusion into the murders; a civil action for damages against the Ministry of Defence, the PSNI and the Secretary of State for alleged collusion before and after the murders; a complaint to the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland; an application for a full report into all of the Glenanne theories and linked killings and a request for a new inquest into the Reavey murders.

He revealed that he remains “cautiously optimistic” about an imminent meeting with the Police Ombudsman’s Office, set to take place this week.

“Despite receiving the devastating news earlier this year that our case with the Police Ombudsman would not be seen until 2025, sufficient pressure was applied to bring it forward,” he revealed.

“The Police Ombudsman has the power to arrest the officers involved in the murders and so we are hopeful about movement on this.”

“Political red tape, arguments and loopholes have continuously been used as stalling exercises throughout the last forty years so I will have no more political dealings and will only be involved with the Police Ombudsman Office and Kevin Winters’ law firm, who are acting on behalf of victims’ families,” he added.

“If it were not for the legal teams and the NGO’s [non-governmental organisations], such as Alan Brecknell and the Pat Finucane Centre, who have consistently put the pressure on over the years, there would be no movement at all. If this was left to the government we would never reach a conclusion.  Whatever the PSNI have to hide, the Reavey family have nothing to hide, I am not prepared to let the police and authorities get away with hiding the truth and will keep fighting as long as I’m able to,” he vowed.