Eugene Reavey, who has campaigned for justice since his three brothers were shot by members of a notorious pro-British death squad in January 1976, has hailed the news that a member of the British Crown Forces is expected to face prosecution for the killings.
The Glenanne Gang is believed to have killed around 120 innocent civilians and included members of the British Army, RUC police, and loyalist paramilitary UVF.
Brothers John (24), Brian (22) and Anthony (17) were watching television at home in Whitecross, south Armagh when gunmen burst in and opened fire on them with submachine guns. John and Brian were killed outright. Anthony managed to run to the bedroom and take cover under a bed, but was shot several times and left for dead.
After searching the house and finding no one else, the gunmen left. Badly wounded, Anthony crawled about 200 yards to a neighbour’s house and sought help, but subsequently died of a brain haemorrhage.
The killings were claimed by the ‘Protestant Action Force’, a covername used by members of the unionist paramilitary UVF. Several members of the British Crown Forces have been linked to the attack over the years.
Uncovering layers of secrecy surrounding the operations of the murder gang has been a lifetime’s work for Mr Reavey. News that a former member of the RUC police (now PSNI) has been identified by the Police Ombudsman as someone who should be charged in relation to the murders has brought a sense of relief.
Mr Reavey said the development was “a major breakthrough for me and my family”.
“When they told me they had received fresh evidence, and that they would be referring the matter for prosecution, I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
“I promised my father that I would continue the fight for justice for John Martin, Brian and Anthony and today I believe we are a step closer to that.”
He said his family has waited a long time for the development.
“It is regrettable that the police did not do their job sooner. This is 46 years in the making. I told them 40 years ago who murdered my brothers and they never gave me any heed. I now look forward to seeing those responsible in court and held to account for their actions.”
Lawyer Darragh Mackin, of Phoenix Law, said: “For over four and a half decades the Reavey family have pursued a dignified and admirable campaign for justice which at times seen certain corners vilifying Eugene Reavey.”
“Today exonerates our client’s campaign for justice which has exposed the state sponsored Glenanne gang,” he added.
The development comes as a short film based on the murders has been completed and is expected to go om public release in the coming months.
Already submitted to several film festivals around the world, the ‘Reavey Brothers’ film is directed by a nephew of the three men, John Reavey.
Filmed in September 2020, it is expected to go on public release in 2022.