Belfast Telegraph

Time for answers on victims like Nairac

Editor's Viewpoint

One of the great unsolved mysteries of the Troubles is the fate of the remains of Captain Robert Nairac, the young British officer who was badly beaten and murdered by the Provisional IRA in 1977.

While on his fourth tour of duty, as an undercover agent, he was abducted in the Dromintee area of south Armagh.

He was awarded the George Cross posthumously in 1979 for his bravery.

In the last 40 years or so there has been much speculation about Captaic Nairac's life and death

There were rumours that he had been involved in a number of loyalist terrorist incidents, that he was a member of the SAS, and that after a savage beating by his captors his body was disposed of in a meat processing plant.

It is a welcome development that the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) has made it clear the claims of Nairac's involvement in several terrorist incidents were "wild allegations".

Geoffrey Knupfer, the ICLVR's chief negotiator, also made it clear that claims Captain Nairac was an SAS member were "completely untrue", as were the rumours about the gruesome disposal of his body.

Significantly, Mr Knupfer appealed to anyone with information about Captain Nairac's last hours to approach the ICLVR "in complete confidence" to help it find the remains.

The ICLVR has been successful recently in locating the body of INLA victim Seamus Ruddy in France.

This is largely because people with information about his murder decades ago helped in the search to locate his remains in a forest area near Rouen in Normandy.

Sadly, there are other victims of terrorist violence who are still unaccounted for, and this causes continued distress to their family and friends, who wish to give them a decent burial after all this time.

This is a tragic and highly emotive subject, and the republican movement needs to match its words about reconciliation with tangible deeds on the ground.

The ICLVR has clarified the nature of the work carried out by Captain Nairac, and has put to bed some of the conspiracy theories about his life and death.

It is time for others to help with the recovery of his remains, and also the remains of those other victims who lie in unknown graves which have still to give up their grim secrets.

Belfast Telegraph

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