A son of Ian Paisley has pulled out of a meeting with a man his father accused of involvement in one of the worst atrocities of the Northern Ireland Troubles.
In 1999, the late firebrand preacher and Democratic Unionist leader Dr Paisley used parliamentary privilege in the House of Commons to claim Eugene Reavey helped plan the 1976 murders of 10 Protestant workmen at the village of Kingsmill, Co Armagh.
Days before the Kingsmill outrage, three of Mr Reavey’s brothers were fatally wounded in a loyalist paramilitary gun attack at the family home at nearby Whitecross.
Kyle Paisley had agreed to talk with Mr Reavey, who for years has worked to clear his name, but withdrew the offer hours after news of the meeting became public.
Mr Reavey long campaigned for the former Stormont first minister to apologise, but he died in 2014 having never backtracked on his allegation.
News of the imminent meeting with Kyle Paisley, himself a Free Presbyterian minister, was broadcast on the BBC on Friday morning. Hours later Mr Paisley withdrew the offer.
“I want to express unequivocally my disappointment in the way this matter has been handled,” he said.
“I feel that confidence has been broken on what had been a matter of private correspondence.”
He added: “My only purpose in saying that I would meet Mr Reavey was to offer Christian sympathy on a personal level.
“News reports this morning may have left the impression that I was going to apologise for my father’s statement in 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 insisted he did not break any confidences. He also said he had not asked Mr Paisley to apologise for this father’s remarks.
“I am disappointed the meeting has been cancelled because I certainly did not break any confidence,” he said.
“I would still like to meet and put my point of view to him.”
Mr Reavey again stressed that he and his family never had any links 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.”
Speaking in Parliament in 1999 Rev Ian Paisley MP used what he said was “a carefully prepared police dossier” to name local men allegedly involved in the massacre. The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) found his comments were “almost verbatim quotes from compiled UDR intelligence material” and did not query the integrity of the document. However it added that Rev Paisley’s use of it “highlights the dangers of confusing information with valid intelligence”.
Former RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan denied it was a police document, however HET said it could be described as such as it was among original police papers.
After meeting Mr Reavey and another man named by Rev Paisley, former Sir Ronnie Flannagan: “We have no evidence whatsoever to connect them with the Kingsmill massacre and there are no outstanding matters that we would intend to interview these gentlemen about.”
After reviewing the case HET also decided not to interview Mr Reavey about Kingsmills.
Eugene Reavey was speaking as part of a BBC broadcast ‘If Truth Be Told’ which will be broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster on Sunday at 12:30 BST.