Thursday 23 November 2017

Rumour body of murdered British officer 'was put through meat processor is a myth' - investigator

The body of Robert Nairac has never been found

This photo of a young Robert Nairac was taken in Spiddal, Co Galway Photo: RTÉ
This photo of a young Robert Nairac was taken in Spiddal, Co Galway Photo: RTÉ Newsdesk Newsdesk

The lead investigator into the murder of a British officer has dismissed as myth a rumour that Captain Robert Nairac's body was put through a meat processor.

Robert Nairac was abducted and murdered in May 1977 while working undercover in Co Armagh.

On tonight's episode of RTÉ's Prime Time, the lead investigator with the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains, Geoff Knupfer, said he was convinced that Robert Nairac’s body could be found.

He dismissed as myth, a rumour that has circulated that Robert Nairac’s body was put through a meat processor.

"It was a story put about by those personally involved. It was really about distracting attention from this area after the murder scene was found. We believe he is buried somewhere in north Co. Louth," he said.

A former undercover British soldier and colleague of the murdered officer - who has since become a priest - has appealed to the IRA to return his body.

Fr William Burke - a former colleague of Robert Nairac
Fr William Burke - a former colleague of Robert Nairac

Father William Burke said that while he was glad the bitterness of the Troubles was over, family and friends wished for Robert Nairac's body to be returned.

When asked what he wished to say to the IRA members who took Robert Nairac’s body from the murder scene at Ravensdale in Co. Louth, Fr. William Burke said: "Please may we have him back, may we have his remains for a Catholic funeral mass. For his family and his friends".

Fr Burke travelled from England to visit the murder scene for the first time.

In his first ever interview about his work in Northern Ireland Fr. Burke said he had left the British Army and became a priest as a result of Robert Nairac’s murder.

At the time of his abduction, Nairac was armed but in plainclothes and was pretending to be ‘Danny from Belfast’.

He was forced into a car and driven by a gang across the border, and shot dead in a field. But by the time the murder scene was located, members of the IRA had removed his body, and there has been no trace of his remains.

Investigator Geoff Knupfer said he believed false stories about Robert Nairac had led to people not coming forward with information.

The programme also heard from a brother of IRA member John Francis Green who was shot dead in a cross border attack in Co Monaghan in 1975.

The Green family believed Robert Nairac was involved in some way in his brother's killing.

Leo Green, himself a former IRA member, said his family did not bear Robert Nairac any acrimony and that his body should be returned.

"My brother’s death was not investigated north or south. There was a minimalist investigation. We know in our heads and hearts what happened. We would like some acknowledgement by the British state of their role or not. That’s what we are looking for. Although my family have a view that Robert Nairac was involved in my brother’s death, there is no feeling of acrimony towards him.

"And there is no feeling of acrimony towards his family. I have described him as a victim in the same way that my brother was a victim. The Nairac family entitlement to truth and Robert Nairac’s entitlement to a proper burial, his sibling’s entitlement to give him that proper burial, it’s up there with all the questions that IRA members families have".

Online Editors

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