Belfast Telegraph

Paisley's son Kyle backs out of meeting with man his dad said planned Kingsmills massacre

By Cate McCurry

Ian Paisley's son has blamed media coverage for his pulling out of a meeting with a man his late father accused of masterminding the Kingsmills massacre.

In 1999, the late firebrand preacher and Democratic Unionist leader, under parliamentary privilege in the House of Commons, claimed that Eugene Reavey set up the 1976 murders of 10 Protestant workmen at the village of Kingsmills, Co Armagh.

The day before the killings, two of Mr Reavey's brothers were murdered when UVF men burst into their family home and opened fire. A third died a month later.

Kyle Paisley had agreed to talk with Mr Reavey, who for years has worked to clear his name, but withdrew the offer just hours after news of the meeting became public.

Ian Paisley never retracted his statement, despite numerous pleas by Mr Reavey and a statement from former RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan, who said there was no evidence linking him to the massacre.

News of the meeting between Mr Reavey and Kyle Paisley was reported on the BBC yesterday morning.

Just hours later, Mr Paisley, a Free Presbyterian minister, said he had withdrawn.

In a statement posted on Twitter, he wrote: "I want to express unequivocally my disappointment in the way this matter has been handled.

"I feel that confidence has been broken on what had been a matter of private correspondence.

"I had refused to be involved in any television programme relating to the Reavey case, and again this morning when asked to take part in a radio broadcast I refused.

"My only purpose in saying that I would meet with Mr Reavey was to offer Christian sympathy on a personal level.

"News reports may have left the impression that I was going to apologise for my father's statement in the Parliament some years ago. I could not and would not.

"Because of the way in which this matter has been handled, there is now no possibility of my meeting with Eugene Reavey."

Mr Reavey responded by saying he was disappointed that the meeting between the two men had been called off.

"No confidences were broken and I was genuinely looking forward to the meeting going ahead as I have had to live with this slur for more than 20 years," he explained.

"I never asked Kyle Paisley to apologise on behalf of his father.

"I wanted the meeting to take place in the spirit of reconciliation and to see where it would lead to.

"Kyle Paisley was kept up-to-date with what we were doing.

"I was more than careful not to impinge on any of those things. I hoped the meeting would go ahead.

"I've had to live with this slur for over 20 years and never asked Kyle Paisley for an apology on behalf of his father.

"The Chief Constable at the time, Ronnie Flanagan, said at the time that the police had no evidence to connect me to Kingsmills."

Mr Reavey again stressed that he and his family have never had any connection to republican paramilitaries.

"I have nothing to hide, nothing," he said.

"There are no skeletons in Eugene Reavey's cupboard - and my bones have been well and truly picked over over the years."

Belfast Telegraph


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