Relatives angry at ‘incomplete’ HET Narrow Water investigation

The Northern Ireland veterans’ commissioner has expressed disappointment at an incomplete legacy probe into the IRA murder of 18 soldiers at Narrow Water.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 6:00 am
The Parachute Regiment Association's 40th anniversary remembrance service in 2019 for those who died in the Narrow Water bombings on August 27 1979

Danny Kinahan was commenting after the PSNI’s Legacy Investigations Branch passed the report on the 1979 outrage in Co Down to bereaved relatives.

The report is the work of the police’s now defunct Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

The HET had begun an examination of the Narrow Water bombings before it was wound up but the investigation was never finished.

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Veterans' Commissioner said the 'incomplete report is a disappointment to relatives'

Mr Kinahan and advocacy group Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) had pressed the LIB to release the HET report.

“This incomplete draft report is a disappointment to relatives and I will use my position to press for answers and for this process to be brought to a satisfactory conclusion by LIB,” said the commissioner.

“It is the very least that the families of those soldiers murdered at Narrow Water deserve.

“I will also continue to engage with LIB on behalf of other families who are still awaiting a completed report.”

The soldiers were killed on August 27 1979 when the IRA detonated two remote control bombs near Narrow Water Castle close to Warrenpoint.

An innocent civilian was also killed on the day when soldiers fired across the Newry River at what they thought were the bombers.

UHRW represents the family of one of the soldiers killed.

One of the group’s advocacy support workers, Jonathan Larner, said the partial report had failed to address concerns around alleged Garda collusion.

“The family feels let down and badly treated by the HET,” he said.

“Now LIB have handed over a 44-page unfinished report that essentially ‘whitewashes’ the investigative failings of An Garda Siochana, dismissing allegations of collusion.

“It was only released because of the pressure that has been applied by UHRW and the Veterans’ Commissioner, Danny Kinahan.

“It is incomplete and leaves many questions unanswered.”

Mr Larner said the family did not want to be identified but he provided a statement he said was from the brother of the murdered solider.

The statement read: “We’d hoped to get some closure, some answers to questions we’ve had for more than 40 years.

“This isn’t the way victims should be treated.

“We lost a loved one and all we can get after nearly eight years is an unfinished report.

“Without the support of UHRW, I’m sure we would still be ignored.

“It’s an insult and a travesty.

“The draft report says that that the HET review was complete.

“What we want is for this report to be completed, and for the outstanding questions around the Garda investigation to be fairly addressed.

“This is no way to conduct legacy investigations and certainly no way to treat relatives.

“They must rethink their whole approach and make it more victim-centred and meaningful.”