Belfast Telegraph

John on how he rebuilt his life... and why hunt for killers of Michaela McAreavey still drives him

By Staff Reporter

The husband of honeymoon murder victim Michaela McAreavey has spoken of how he met his second wife Tara, his continuing mission to find Michaela's killers, and his fears over how Brexit is affecting society.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Irish Catholic magazine, John McAreavey revealed how he has rebuilt his life and found new happiness - with the blessing of Michaela's parents Mickey and Marian Harte.

Both chartered accountants, 33-year old John and Tara Brennan met in Galway just a week after a 'Match for Michaela' event in Belfast's Casement Park.

The game, attended by 20,000 people, had been a massive undertaking in organisational terms, and John and some friends had gone to Galway for a break.

"It was a Saturday night, November 10, 2012, just over five years ago now, when I got talking to Tara for the first time," he said.

"Tara was the first girl that I had spoken to since Michaela. There was just something there, there was a spark there, it was completely innocent on both sides. We got on very well and she told me a bit about herself and vice versa, and so we exchanged numbers."

He spoke movingly about the difficulties the couple encountered as their relationship developed.

"No girl dreams about getting married to a young man who has been married before and whose wife has been tragically murdered. There is no guide to go by because nobody knows what it is like, but our guiding thing was our love and that is what prevailed.

"It was actually very difficult for Tara and me for a while because both of us, together, had to work through our feelings, had to navigate uncharted waters, but we now know, thank God, that it was all worth it."

John told the magazine that soon after Michaela's murder her parents "sat me down and talked to me, saying that one day they would really love me to meet somebody again".

"And at that time it was very difficult to hear that, and I didn't want to hear that, but it gives you an insight into the type of people they are," he said.

"Tara is the most generous person that I know - in terms of generosity of spirit she is unbelievable, and when I see her doing things I see God living through her."

John and Tara were married in 2016.

His uncle, who is the Bishop of Dromore, officiated at the wedding.

Turning to the savage 2011 murder of Michaela in Mauritius, he revealed that efforts to apprehend and convict her killers continue.

He told the Irish Catholic he receives monthly reports on the progress of the investigation, and did not rule out a return to the Indian Ocean island.

"I am prepared to give the Mauritian authorities time and space to do what they have to do. Huge mistakes were made the first time round and the authorities have a responsibility to put that right," he said.

A businessman with interests in both the UK and Ireland, John described Brexit as "an absolute nightmare", and spoke of his admiration for the late Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Remembering the spirit of goodwill and reconciliation abroad when the Queen shook the hand of former IRA leader McGuinness, he said he felt that things had gone downhill since then.

"That was very symbolic, and at that time you could see a bright future; but in the space of five years that positivity has evaporated, which is hugely disappointing," he said.

"Am I confident? I am not as confident as I was two years ago. In the past number of years, since the tragedy, I have met many brilliant, good and genuine people and one of those was Martin McGuinness, who I got to know quite well.

"He was obviously a huge figure in Northern Ireland, and I don't think we would be in this situation if he was still here."

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