Northern Ireland news

Draft HET report into Narrow Water massacre 'disrespectful and unacceptable'

View of ambush in Warrenpoint Co. Down in which eighteen soldiers were killed in a no warning IRA landmine explosion. Picture by Pacemaker Belfast Archive

AN `incomplete' legacy report into the IRA murder of 18 soldiers at Narrow Water in 1979 has been branded "disrespectful and unacceptable".

The family of one of those killed, the Northern Ireland Veterans Commissioner and Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) have expressed disappointment after the PSNI's Legacy Investigations Branch (LIB) passed the report on the 1979 outrage in Co Down to bereaved relatives.

The police's now defunct Historical Enquiries Team (HET) had begun an examination of the Narrow Water bombings before it was wound up but the investigation was never finished.

But according to a brother of one of the soldiers "the draft report says that that the HET review was complete".

The soldiers were killed on August 27 1979 when the IRA detonated two remote control bombs near Narrow Water Castle close to Warrenpoint.

An innocent civilian was also killed on the day when soldiers fired across the Newry River at what they thought were the bombers.

Commissioner Danny Kinahan and UHRW had pushed for the report to be released.

"This incomplete draft report is a disappointment to relatives and I will use my position to press for answers and for this process to be brought to a satisfactory conclusion by LIB," he said.

"It is the very least that the families of those soldiers murdered at Narrow Water deserve.

"I will also continue to engage with LIB on behalf of other families who are still awaiting a completed report."

UHRW represents the family of one soldier killed in the attack and its advocacy support worker Jonathan Larner said his relatives "feel let down and badly treated by the HET".

"Now LIB have handed over a 44-page unfinished report that essentially `whitewashes' the investigative failings of An Garda Síochána, dismissing allegations of collusion."

Mr Larner said it was "incomplete and leaves many questions unanswered".

In a statement the soldier's brother said they had "hoped to get some closure, some answers to questions we've had for more than 40 years".

"This isn't the way victims should be treated. We lost a loved one and all we can get after nearly eight years is an unfinished report."

He said they want to report "to be completed" - given the papers they have indicate the review was "complete" - and "the outstanding questions around the gardai investigation to be fairly addressed".

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Northern Ireland news