Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Reavey family no longer expects justice over brothers’ triple murder

Forty-four years on from the murders of their three brothers, the Reavey family from Whitecross says they no longer expect to see anyone brought to justice for the crime.

John Martin, Brian and Anthony Reavey were attacked in their family home on the outskirts of Whitecross on January 4th 1975.  Masked gunmen from the notorious UVF Glenanne Gang burst into the rural cottage, opening fire on the brothers as they were watching television.  John Martin (24) and Brian (22) died instantly, while 17-year-old Anthony succumbed to his injuries three weeks later.

In a family statement released ahead of the brothers’ 44th anniversary on Saturday last, Eugene Reavey says the family continues to “seek reconciliation and peace” and no longer expects to see “anyone brought before a court to answer” for the murder of his brothers.

Reflecting on the horrific events, Mr Reavey said: “Throughout my childhood and early adult life, the Christmas season was always a special time of celebration and joy for our entire family.  On Christmas morning all of us attended Mass in our local Catholic church, St. Brigid’s in Carrickananny, and then spent the day together, everyone united in our home at Whitecross in county Armagh. That was the case on Christmas Day 1975 but it was the last year our Christmas happiness would not be marred by sadness and grief.  For it was on the first Sunday of the New Year, 1976, that my three brothers John Martin, Brian and Anthony were attacked while watching television at our home. 

“A gang of masked gunmen entered the house and shot all three of them, killing two and severely wounding the youngest, Anthony, who was just 17 years old. Before the end of the month he, too, would be dead. The coming New Year will mark the 44th anniversary of the tragedy and not a single day has passed, during all those years, without our family lamenting and mourning the murders of our three much loved brothers. My father, Jimmy, and mother, Sadie, never wavered in their desire for justice and dismissed any thought of retaliation or revenge. They were consoled in their sorrow by their Christian faith. Both went to their graves without ever learning the truth about what happened or seeing the killers brought to justice.  After so many years of inaction by the authorities, our family does not expect to see anyone brought before a court to answer for these crimes.”

Eugene Reavey holds the photos of his three brothers murdered in January 1976.

Mr Reavey says he now concentrates on promoting peace and reconciliation: “Having lived in south Armagh throughout the Troubles and aware that over 3,600 people have lost their lives through hatred and violence, I now devote my time and energy to promoting peace and reconciliation.  It is my hope that coming generations will realise that such cruel and heartless conduct will never achieve anything of value but will rather blight the lives of everyone, whatever their status, religion or belief. Like our deceased parents, the Reavey family continues to call for an end to violence and to seek reconciliation and peace.”