independent

Monday 26 June 2017

'Nairac is buried in North Louth', says investigator

Robert Nairac on patrol in Northern Ireland. Pic RTE Primetime
Robert Nairac on patrol in Northern Ireland. Pic RTE Primetime
Fr William Burke and RTE Primetime reporter Barry Cummins at the site in Ravensdale where Robert Nairac was killed. Pics: RTE Primetime

Anne Campbell

The man leading the search for the four remaining 'Disappeared' says that British undercover soldier, Robert Nairac, is buried 'somewhere in North Louth' and has made a fresh appeal for information about the location of the burial site as the 40th anniversary of the mystery looms.

Geoff Knupfer from the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) told Primetime reporter Barry Cummins that it is his belief that Nairac, a Grenadier Guard who was abducted from the Three Steps pub in Drumintee in May 1977, was buried and possibly reburied in the 'general vicinity' of where he was killed.

Mr Knupfer entirely rejected the 40-year-old rumours that Nairac's body was disposed of at a meat processing factory at Dulargy, Ravensdale, shortly after his death and asserted that it is the commission's belief that he was buried and possibly moved and buried again 'and maybe again'.

The Primetime show revealed that while there has been information given by republicans about the location of 13 of the Disappeared, which has led to the recovery of ten so far, there has been no information given to the commission about where Nairac could be. Instead, Mr Cummins said, myths have grown up around the life and death of the undercover solider who was, at the time of his death, based at Bessbrook barracks.

It had been established that Nairac was armed with an under shoulder holster and a Browning pistol and had been in the Three Steps pub the night before he went missing returning a second time, calling himself 'Danny McErlean' and claiming he was from West Belfast.

The programme revealed that Nairac's cover was blown after 'some locals got suspicious' and there was a struggle with him before his gun fell to the ground. He was forced into a car and brought across the border.

The report showed archive footage of Nairac's parents speaking about their son in 1978 and also featured the missing man's friend, and former solider, Fr William Burke who is now a Catholic priest in the South of England. Fr Burke and Mr Cummins visited the spot at the Flurry Bridge in Ravensdale where Nairac was beaten and then shot dead.

The priest broke down as he said prayers at the location and he appealed for information about Nairac's whereabouts so his family, including his two sisters, can give him a Christian burial.

In addition, the show revealed how the ICLVR took the unique step in investigating Nairac's background and his work for the British Army including persistent rumours that he was involved or helped set up a number of atrocities including the Miami Showband Massacre. Mr Knupfer said he believed these rumours have led to the lingering silence around the location of Nairac's remains. He said: 'We tried to research his background, to try to find out if these rumours were fact or fiction and we have not found a shred of evidence for these wild accusations that he was involved in murder and mayhem'.

Significantly, the murder of IRA man John Francis Green, in Castleblayney in 1975, was another incident Nairac's name was linked to. Mr Green's brother, Leo, a former hunger striker, said his family's view is that Nairac 'had an active part' in the murder but they had no concrete evidence.

Leo said: 'Although we have a view that Robert Nairac was involved in some way in my brother's death, there's no feeling of acrimony towards him or his family'. He said that both men were victims and he thought it 'very strange that his (Nairac's) body was disappeared'.

'I can't think of a particular reason why they would hide the fact that Robert Nairac has been killed by the IRA. Anyone with information should bring it forward'.

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