Bradley: Paisley must withdraw slur against Eugene Reavey

SDLP Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley has called on Ian Paisley to withdraw a statement made under privilege in the House of Commons in February 1999 in which he falsely accused Eugene Reavey in connection with the Kingsmills Massacre.

Mr Bradley said:

“Eugene Reavey’s three brothers were murdered by loyalists in circumstances which strongly indicate collusion the night before Kingsmills. Mr Reavey wrote to Ian Paisley almost two years ago and asked him to withdraw the remarks he made in Parliament in 1999 and to apologise for making them. He has offered no comment since.

“Now that the Historical Enquiries Team has reported on the murder of the Reavey brothers and stated categorically that neither they, nor Eugene, had any connection with any paramilitary organisation or crime, Mr Paisley should apologise in full to Mr Reavey, his family, and especially his ageing mother.

“It is totally unacceptable Mr Paisley has defamed Eugene Reavey in the most serious manner possible; the opportunity is there for him now to take away that hurt caused by withdrawing his remarks and apologising in full

“On Devolution Day on May 8th Mr Paisley saluted ‘… all innocent victims of the terrible conflict’. He now has the opportunity to do something practical to help some of those victims - the Reavey family - who have suffered enough already, by removing the slur on Eugene Reavey’s character.

“By withdrawing his remarks and apologising to Eugene Reavey Mr Paisley will help to bring the Reavey family nearer to closure in this terrible chapter of their lives. If Ian Paisley has truly entered into the new era of peace and reconciliation as he claims he has then he should take the next step and apologise.”

SDLP Justice Spokesperson Alban Maginness added:

“There is actually more at stake here than an apology to a wronged family. Ian Paisley presented his information to the Commons as being based on security sources. The true state of police knowledge of these crimes is reflected in the HET statement which very clearly refutes the charges made by Ian Paisley.

His security force sources were therefore either false, or real but telling him lies. Given all the strong indications that security-force collusion through the Glennane Gang was key to the murders of the Reavey brothers, there is every reason to believe that misinformation was deliberately fed to a credulous Ian Paisley in order frustrate the proper investigation of these murders. He should now examine his sources as well as his conscience.”