News

Impact of Reavey deaths still felt

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

SATURDAY marked the 38th anniversary of the deaths of three Catholic brothers who were brutally gunned down by the UVF in their Whitecross home.
John Martin, 24, Brian, 22, and Anthony Reavey, 17, were shot on January 4, 1976, when six masked UVF men burst into their family home at Greyhill and opened fire. The same night three members of the Catholic O'Dowd family were murdered outside Gilford.
John and Brian were watching TV when the gunmen used a key that had been left in the door of the home to open it, walk in and carry out the attack.
More than 40 bullets were used in the attack which killed John and Brian immediately. Anthony, the youngest of the three, was hit as he tried to hide under a bed. Despite being shot in the stomach, he managed to crawl 200 yards to a neighbour's for help. However, his condition deteriorated and less than a month later he died. A detective involved in the case later described the three brothers as "totally innocent".
Mother of the three brothers, Mrs Sadie Reavey, who passed away last July, said at the time that the death toll could have been worse.
Normally on a Sunday night her eight sons and four daughters would have all been at the house, but by chance she, and some of the others were visiting her sister, and only the three brothers were at home.
The next day in a revenge attack, 10 Protestant men were killed in an IRA ambush in Kingsmills as they travelled home from work at a Glenanne textile factory.
Controversy broke out in 1999, when former First Minister Ian Paisley used parliamentary privilege to name more than a dozen men who he said were involved in the massacre. Eugene Reavey, brother of the three victims, was one of those named.
Former SDLP leader Seamus Mallon challenged Mr Paisley to repeat the allegations outside the House of Commons. Mr Mallon said it was "inconceivable" that any of the individuals named would have been involved in the Kingsmills massacre or any other paramilitary activity. Mr Reavey said he was horrified by the accusations and battled to clear his name.
In 2007, the Reavey family received an apology from the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) for their treatment by members of the security forces.
Three years later, a HET report finally exonerated the three brothers and their family members of any links to paramilitaries, describing them as entirely innocent victims.

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