Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Victims’ brother slams proposals for amnesty

The brother of three Whitecross men shot dead by loyalists almost 40 years ago says he is vehemently opposed to any proposed amnesty for those who were responsible for the killings, if they secretly confess to their crimes.

Eugene Reavey, whose three brothers John Martin (24), Brian (22) and Anthony (17) were gunned down by a UVF gang in a sectarian attack on their rural home in August 1976, says he will “fight the government all the way” against any attempt to, what he terms, “whitewash history”.

In recent days it emerged that the north’s main political parties have been engaged in secret talks with the government regarding the setting up of the Implementation and Reconciliation Group (IRG).

As part of the scheme, paramilitaries, soldiers and police offers accused or suspected of involvement in murders during the Troubles will be given an amnesty from prosecution, in exchange for a “statement of acknowledgement” admitting their guilt.

This admission of guilt will allow the confessor to have a clean record.  However, victims and their relatives will not be informed of any confession or indeed that the crime has been “solved”.

Eugene Reavey is appalled that such an amnesty could be considered for those responsible for some of the worst atrocities during the Troubles.  He says it is an attempt by the government to “whitewash” the past and, if implemented, will “eradicate any possibility of justice”.

Speaking to The Examiner, Mr Reavey said: “As a family we were devastated to hear of the proposals to offer amnesty to those who committed murders throughout the Troubles. We, along with countless other bereaved families, have, for many years, placed our hopes and trust in the hands of our elected officials to do the right thing and facilitate Article 2 investigations into these deaths. We assisted in the HET investigations, supported other families through the hearing of legacy inquests and waited patiently for decades for our politicians to discharge their duties under the European Convention of Human Rights. We even brought the UK government to the European Court of Human rights for breach of Article 2 (Right to Life), and were successful.  Yet we have been habitually and consistently let down by the PSNI and the government. “Mr Reavey says he is speaking out publicly on the issue because “people need to hear how [the] ordinary are being treated by the government in England, Ireland and Stormont”.

“The Historical Enquiries Team has now been disposed of, the Coroner’s Court is grossly underfunded resulting in incredible delays; the PSNI further contribute to the pain and anguish of families by sadistically delaying the disclosure of documents and access to the truth. This latest proposal, if implemented, would constitute a complete obliteration of the basic human rights of victims and their families as it would eradicate any possibility of justice ever being served.

“We ask that those politicians considering these proposals put themselves in the shoes of families like ours and show some empathy to the tiresome struggle that we have endured for 40 years and consider the effects that their actions will have,” he added.

No one has ever been prosecuted for the murders of the Reavey brothers.