Thursday 8 December 2016

Evidence appears to clear Capt Nairac

Author asserts that undercover soldier was not even in Ireland at time of the Miami massacre, writes Jim Cusack

Published 03/01/2016 | 02:30

Miami Showband massacre
Miami Showband massacre

A new book on British Army officer Capt Robert Nairac, killed and secretly buried by the South Armagh IRA 40 years ago, has debunked several of the 'myths' linking the soldier to atrocities during the Troubles.

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The 28-year-old captain, considered an outstanding young officer, was shot dead after he was cornered and beaten by a group of men outside a South Armagh pub in May 1977.

Since then the military intelligence officer has been linked to, among other events, the Miami Showband murders in July 1975, the Dublin-Monaghan bombings in May 1974 and even the IRA's massacre of 10 Protestant men in south Armagh in January 1976.

However, author Alistair Kerr, whose 474-page book on Nairac has been published by Cambridge Media Group, uncovered records which show the officer was not in Ireland at the time those atrocities took place.

Nairac, a devout Catholic, has been persistently linked to the Miami massacre, in which three band members were shot dead and two loyalists were killed when the bomb the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was attempting to load into the band's van exploded prematurely.

However, Mr Kerr uncovered details of Captain Nairac's duties in the month preceding the atrocity and exactly where he was on the day it happened, July 31 1975. Nairac spent the previous month on a military course in England, with only two days leave.

At the end of the course he, a fellow officer and two friends drove to Scotland for a fly-fishing holiday.

Kerr writes: "On 31 July Nairac left London, not for Northern Ireland but for the Outer Hebrides. He went there by road and MacBrayne's Ferry. His friend, Capt David Sewell accompanied him. At that time he drove a red Alfa Romeo sports car. A few people still recall both this car and his using it for that journey. He spent his leave fly-fishing for sea trout and brown trout in South Uist with three friends; one brother officer and two civilians, two of whom are still alive and able to confirm this."

Kerr also reveals that Nairac was in England preparing for his first tour of duty in Northern Ireland when the UVF carried out the May 1974 bombings in Dublin and Monaghan, killing 33 people.

And Nairac could not have been involved in the murder of an IRA man, John Francis Green, who was shot dead at a house in Monaghan in January 1975, Mr Kerr asserts.

He writes that Capt Nairac was in England when the IRA massacre of 10 Protestant workmen took place at Kingsmill in January 1976.

"At the risk of repetition, it is worth reiterating that Nairac had left Northern Ireland in April 1975 and would not reappear there until June 1976. On 4-5 January he was at Pirbright (army base in Surrey), making last-minute preparations for the deployment of his Battalion to Kenya . . . Numerous guardsmen saw him at Pirbright at that time."

In 1979 Nairac was awarded the George Cross, the highest 'peace-time' gallantry award.

The author said he hopes the book might help to convince those involved in shooting and secretly burying Capt Nairac to come forward with information about the whereabouts of his grave.

Republican sources have told the Sunday Independent that Nairac's body was not, as was also claimed in the past, ground up in a meat-packing plant in Louth. He was buried secretly in the Border area.

The whereabouts of the grave is still unknown, but the South Armagh IRA has refused to co-operate with the independent group set up to recover remains of the 18 'Disappeared', 13 of whom have been recovered.

Sunday Independent

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