Belfast Telegraph

Get back to work or face the sack - Narrow Water survivor’s challenge to Northern Ireland politicians

Graham Eve at Narrow Water
Graham Eve at Narrow Water
Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

A former soldier who saw bags filled with the body parts of murdered Parachute Regiment colleagues at Narrow Water has called for MLAs to return to work or face the sack.

In an emotional interview, Graham Eve said it was time for Orange and Green politics to be "put away".

He was among a group of more than 200 veterans, politicians and local people who attended a service and wreath-laying ceremony on the banks of the Newry River yesterday to mark 40 years since the atrocity.

Eighteen soldiers - 16 from the Parachute Regiment and two from the Queen's Own Highlanders - died when the IRA detonated the remote-control bombs from a firing point across the river on August 27, 1979.

A 19th victim, a civilian tourist, also died after being hit by a bullet fired across the river by soldiers in the chaos.

On the same day in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, a separate IRA bomb killed Lord Mountbatten - the Queen's second cousin. Three others were also killed.

On the day of the Narrow Water atrocity, Mr Eve was airlifted into Warrenpoint from Bessbrook to secure the area.

Yesterday he talked of the scene of devastation that met him, and how people wondered whose fingers and thumbs had been collected in Cellophane bags.

He recalled: "You could see flak jackets up in the trees, that's how dreadful the carnage was.

"No matter how you describe what we saw, you can't get across what it was really like."

Mr Eve (58), who joined the Army in his teens, said people here must put the Troubles behind them and move on.

And he had a direct message to politicians at Stormont, which has not sat since January 2017.

He added: "I have four grandchildren and I very much wish that they do not have to go through what I went through. I'm very annoyed with our politicians.

"I think the Secretary of State should tell our politicians that Stormont will be reopened on Monday and if they turn up they'll be paid and if they don't they'll be sacked. Let's sort this bloody thing out."

Mr Eve said the politics of the Orange and Green had no place any more. He asked: "Why are they still arguing? Why is there so much hatred?

"Put the orange away, put the green away. They need to just step outside the box and realise how stupid they have been and instead realise how beautiful this country is and share it.

"I appreciate the history of the past - that's the problem, it's the past. Let's forget about the word 'past' and let's move forward. Please.

"I am not going to die a bitter man, I have no bitterness in me."

Mr Eve said he had been opposed to politicians being invited to the memorial service at Narrow Water yesterday, adding: "If the politicians here had been doing their jobs back in the day this wouldn't have happened here."

Mr Eve also had a message for dissident republicans who are still carrying out terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland, telling them to "grow up".

Mr Eve was once filmed meeting IRA man Joe Doherty, who was convicted of the murder of SAS officer Captain Herbert Westmacott in May 1980.

He added: "We had a man-to-man talk across the table. We had so much that we shared in life."

Mr Eve said he knew that prisoners in the Maze/Long Kesh had celebrated the deaths of "our lovely, lovely lads" at Narrow Water. He added: "I wasn't surprised. They had a good day, we had a bad day."

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