Eugene Reavey challenges online smears

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Prominent peace campaigner Eugene Reavey is to take on defamatory statements made about him on the internet by suing Google and Facebook.

Legal action was launched after an anonymous blog linked Mr Reavey to a gun attack on a minibus in south Armagh which claimed the lives of ten Protestant workmen in 1976. Content from the blog post has also appeared on a Facebook page.

The atrocity at Kingsmill was denied by the IRA, and remains the subject of controversy and speculation.

In 1975 the notorious Glenanne Gang, which included loyalists and members of the British Armed Forces, attacked the Reavey family home near Whitecross in south Armagh, killing Eugene’s brothers John Martin and Brian. A third brother, Anthony, died several weeks later from his injuries.

Within minutes of the shooting three members of the O’Dowd family were also gunned down by the same gang in County Down.

The next day, 10 men were shot dead near Kingsmill in a rare anti-Protestant reprisal attack as they travelled home from work. Eugene Reavey happened upon the scene of the attack as he was travelling from his home to Newry with other family members to collect the bodies of his dead brothers. He then helped direct traffic until emergency services arrived at the scene.

The south Armagh man, who is well known for his reconciliation work, has campaigned for justice for his family ever since, but has been the focus of loyalist disinformation and defamation.

In 1999 former First Minister and DUP leader Ian Paisley used parliamentary privilege to falsely accuse Mr Reavey of ‘masterminding’ the Kingsmill attack. Mr Paisley, who died in 2014, never apologised for making the false claims.

Mr Reavey’s lawyer Darragh Mackin, of Phoenix Law, said: “In the modern era whereby anybody can post malicious and vicious lies about a person’s character it is crucially important they have the ability to uphold their reputation.”

Mr Mackin said it was “correct that Google have taken the necessary action to protect his (Mr Reavey’s) reputation and character.

“We are proceeding to court to obtain the details of the person behind this malicious campaign.”

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