Pressure has been put on republicans by unionist politicians to show respect to the Disappeared, after a 40-year-old case came back into the media spotlight.
Captain Robert Nairac was abducted from a pub car park in Dromintee, Co Armagh, in May 1977 and later murdered in Ravensdale, Co Louth.
Speaking on RTE this week, the man leading the searches for the Disappeared – Geoff Knupfer – said “wild allegations” had been circulated about the soldier to discredit him.
Lagan Valley DUP candidate Jeffrey Donaldson commented: “The case of Robert Nairac is one that is not regularly highlighted, but the comments from Geoff Knupfer are very significant and should put a focus back on republicans and place a fresh responsibility on them to do more in assisting this case.
“It would seem that republicans not only murdered and ‘disappeared’ Capt Nairac, but have helped prevent evidence from coming forward because of the wild rumours circulated about him.
“All too often it has been easy for republicans to attempt to discredit members of the security forces by using allegations of collusion or other unsubstantiated claims.
“With repeated republican demands put forward of others to deal with the legacy of the past, this case reminds us of how those involved in PIRA terrorism have done little to assist even the recovery of a body, let alone uncover the truth about his abduction, likely torture and eventual murder.”
Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie MC said: “This week brought confirmation from Geoff Knupfer, the lead forensic investigator at the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains, that Capt Robert Nairac was not involved in five Troubles-related incidents to which his name was previously linked.
“This attempt to smear his reputation no doubt explains why so little information has been presented regarding exactly where his murderers left his body.
“Cases such as Capt Nairac and the rest of the Disappeared should be at the forefront of our minds the next time anyone in Sinn Fein tries to lecture anyone else about respect or victims’ issues.”
He added: “The blatant hypocrisy of the republican movement is exposed once again for all to see. They demand respect from others yet cannot show any themselves.
“The next time Michelle O’Neill attends a commemoration for dead terrorists and demands respect, she should ask some of those assembled to tell the truth so that Capt Nairac can be given a Christian burial.”
Father William Burke, an undercover British soldier who became a priest following Capt Nairac’s murder, appeared on RTE’s Prime Time programme earlier this week to appeal to the IRA to say where his colleague is buried.
Geoff Knupfer, the former police officer who is leading the searches for the Disappeared, was also interviewed on the programme. He described rumours that Capt Nairac’s body had been put through a meat processor as a myth and said that “wild allegations” had been circulated about his involvement in killings which had led to people not coming forward with information.