17 January 2007

THE family of three brothers murdered in their own home by a loyalist gang in 1976 has finally received an apology from a government agency for the actions of the security forces.

John Martin Reavey, 24, Brian Reavey, and 17-year-old Anthony Reavey were gunned down by six masked man who burst into their Whitecross home on January 4, 1976.

Nobody has ever been charged with the murders and the Reavey family has always strenuously denied the three men were linked to any paramilitary group, despite a vicious whispering campaign suggesting otherwise.

Eugene Reavey, a brother of the murdered men, recently met with representatives of the government-funded Historical Enquiries Team (HET) who, the first time in 31 years, apologised to the family for the role played by the security forces investigating the shootings and confirmed his brothers’ innocence.

“In the 30 years since the murders no-one from the government or from the police ever visited my mother to apologise for her sons’ murders,” said Mr Reavey.

“David Cox, the head of the HET, visited our home and I told him that nobody had ever apologised to my mother; no-one had ever apologised for her sons being accused of being in a paramilitary organisation when they weren’t and no-one ever apologised for the harassment of the Reavey family in the ensuing years.

“MY mother, for the first time in over 30 years, then received a letter from the HET, which stated it would reexamine all the intelligence and material from the time of the murders and confirmed that there was “no trace of any credible material” that would link the three brothers to a paramilitary organisation or illegal activity.”

The letter also stated that the three brothers were “entirely innocent victims of senseless sectarian violence” and also apologised to the Reavey family for the “appalling harassment suffered by the family in the aftermath at the hands of the security forces”.

The case into the triple murder is currently under review at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

“The case is ongoing,” said Mr Reavey. “They know who the people are. There’s about 60 murders down to them at the moment, and another 125 that they have been involved in.

“It could rise up to 200 murders, which would make it the biggest investigation in Europe at the moment. It’s unbelievable.”

Mr Reavey said he is confident that closure into the murders can finally been brought and said the most important thing is that his brothers’ names are finally, unequivocally, cleared of any wrongdoing.

“I’m not interested in prosecutions,” he added. “Prosecutions mean nothing to me after 30 years.

“Most of the people involved in the killings are now entering their twilight years and under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement would not be sentenced.

All I want them is to be named and shamed and for my brothers’ names to be totally cleared.

“David Cox has already said this to our family privately. It was the first time someone had said this to my mother in over 30 years. The HET were very courteous, very professional and they handled the whole case with dignity. They were very sensitive in their approach and I would like to thank them for that.”