SF slammed over lack of leads on Nairac body

A former IRA bomber says republicans will not give up Capt Robert Nairacs body until they are clear they will not be prosecuted for their crimes
A former IRA bomber says republicans will not give up Capt Robert Nairacs body until they are clear they will not be prosecuted for their crimes

A former soldier and an ex-IRA bomber have both slammed republicans for failing to offer any information to help retrieve the body of Captain Robert Nairac.

The officer was abducted by the IRA while acting undercover in south Armagh in 1977. He was one of 16 so-called ‘Disappeared’ secretly buried during the Troubles.

Geoff Knupfer of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains said last week that no new information had been received in the case. RTE ran a ground-breaking documentary in May 2017 which carried calls for the body to be returned.

UUP MLA and former RIR captain Doug Beattie accused republicans of adopting double standards – withholding information on the body while pursuing legacy information from London and Dublin.

“It is absolutely clear to me that any legacy mechanism that was proposed as part of the Stormont House Agreement brokered between Sinn Fein and the DUP will be one-sided and unbalanced,” he said.

“This is clear because Sinn Fein are using the smokescreen that the IRA have left the stage, and therefore information on murders – such as that of Capt Robert Nairac GC – will never come to light.

“At the same time the information held by governments and their agencies both sides of the border will be pored over by republicans with a single aim – to change the narrative of our troubled past in order to lay blame elsewhere.”

He called on Sinn Fein to “drop their smokescreen” and disclose the location of Capt Nairac’s body.

Former IRA bomber Shane Paul O’Doherty, who is from Londonderry, said the lack of cooperation from republicans was “deeply shameful and dishonourable”.

He asked Martin McGuinness to help in the 1990s, he said, but after contacting the south Armagh IRA Mr McGuinness responded that he “had gotten nowhere”.

Republicans have rolled out a process to endorse annual remembrance ceremonies for UK forces while fully aware that they were withholding the body of this fallen British soldier, who had been captured, tortured and murdered contrary to the Geneva Convention, he said.

“An ‘in the know’ republican explained to me last year that Captain Nairac’s body would not be returned until it was absolutely clear that the British were going to cease the prosecutions of republicans for ‘legacy’ crimes,” said Mr O’Doherty.

“While the threat of prosecutions was still possible, Captain Robert Nairac’s remains would continue to lie in an unmarked grave.”

Sinn Fein said it has consistently called for anyone with information that could lead to the retrieval of disappeared bodies, including Robert Nairac, to come forward to the commission.

“The Stormont House Agreement was brokered between the five main parties and the British and Irish governments,” it said.

This provides a range of mechanisms, including an Historical Investigations Unit with powers of prosecution, to give victims the opportunity for justice and truth, it added.