Northern Ireland

Eugene Reavey: 'The record now states that I am an innocent man'

Eugene Reavey
Eugene Reavey

CLAIMS that a Co Armagh peace campaigner was involved in the murder of 10 Protestant men almost 45 years ago have been described as "utterly false" at Westminster.

Labour MP and south Armagh native Conor McGinn rubbished the allegations made about Eugene Reavey during a debate about a public inquiry into the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane.

In 1999 former First Minister and DUP leader Ian Paisley used parliamentary privilege to falsely accuse Mr Reavey of masterminding the Kingsmill gun attack in January 1976.

Mr Paisley, who died in 2014, never apologised for making the claims.

The attack came a day after two of Mr Mr Reavey's brothers, John Martin (24) and Brian (22), were shot dead by members of the Glenanne Gang, which included members of the RUC, UDR and UVF, at their family home near Whitecross in south Armagh.

A third brother, Anthony (17), also died several weeks later from his injuries.

Speaking to The Irish News last night, Mr Reavey said: "The record now states that I am an innocent man."

Mr McGinn, who is an MP for St Helens in England and Labour's shadow security minister, challenged Mr Paisley's claims during the debate.

"Whatever the motivation behind making the allegation, it caused incredible pain and it was completely and utterly false," he said.

"The police, including the then Chief Constable, as well as historical enquiries investigations are very clear that Eugene Reavey had no involvement whatsoever in Kingsmill.

"I think it is right that the record is corrected here today."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, who sponsored the debate, also described the accusation as "scurrilous".

"Eugene Reavey is one of the most decent upstanding people I know and what was said about him was absolutely wrong, totally hurtful and why anybody would think that you pile more pain onto a family, one of many families, and think that would have some sort of value, I just do not understand," he said.

Northern Ireland Office (NIO) minister Robin Walker thanked Mr McGinn for raising Mr Reavey's case and noted "that the PSNI's Historical Enquiries Team found no wrong-doing whatsoever by Eugene Reavey in the incident that he raises".

Meanwhile, the debate discussed the failure of the British government to hold a public inquiry into the loyalist murder of Mr Finucane in 1989.

In 2012 former Prime Minister David Cameron apologised after a report by Desmond de Silva found there was collusion in the case.

The 39-year-old was shot dead in front of his wife and children at his north Belfast home.

Mr Walker reiterated the apology yesterday.

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that an investigation compliant with Article Two of the European Convention on Human Rights, which deals with the right to life, has not been held and said it is up to the state to decide what form of investigation should take place.

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis is due to make a decision before the end of this month.

Mr Eastwood said of the Finucane case: "The act of the murder, the cover up of how it occurred and the denial of truth tells us a very, very clear story about the UK's intervention in Northern Ireland."

During the debate the DUP's Jim Shannon also raised the issue of investigations into the deaths of members of the security forces.