Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Mother of murdered brothers dies

A minibus near Whitecross in South Armagh where 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead in 1976, a day after the Reavey brothers were shot

The mother of three brothers murdered by a loyalist gang during the Troubles has died.

Sadie Reavey, from Whitecross in south Armagh, died on Monday night. The widow, who was in her early 90s, had long campaigned for justice for her sons.

John Martin, 24, Brian, 22, and Anthony Reavey, 17, were gunned down by the UVF in their Whitecross home in January 1976. John Martin and Brian died instantly while Anthony died weeks later. The killings took place during one of the bloodiest periods of the conflict.

Three members of the Catholic O'Dowd family were shot dead by loyalists in Ballydugan, Co Armagh the same night as the attack in Whitecross, while the following day republican gunmen killed ten Protestant workmen in the Armagh village of Kingsmills.

The Reavey killings have long been a source of controversy, with claims security force elements colluded with the loyalist gang involved.

In 1999 former Stormont First Minister Dr Ian Paisley claimed in the House of Commons, using parliamentary privilege, that another Reavey brother, Eugene, was involved in organising the Kingsmills massacre.

Dr Paisley, now Lord Bannside, has been challenged on a number of occasions to retract and apologise for the allegation - including during a special Assembly debate on the issue three years ago - but has not done so.

A review of the case by the police's Historical Enquiries Team (HET) found that no member of the Reavey family had any paramilitary connections.

Newry and Armagh Assembly member Danny Kennedy paid tribute to Mrs Reavey.

"I was very sorry to hear of Mrs Reavey's death. I offer my sympathies to the family at this time. Mrs Reavey had to endure the loss of three sons and she had a very difficult experience to come through," he said.

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