19 February 2009 Edition
South Derry Councillor John Davey, assassinated 1989
British state behind Davey murder – McGuinness
SINN FÉIN Councillor John Davey, murdered in 1989, was killed by British military personnel authorised at the highest levels of the British Government, the North’s joint First Minister and Sinn Féin MP for Mid-Ulster, Martin McGuinness, says.
McGuinness told a 20th anniversary commemoration for John Davey at Lavey, County Derry, at the weekend that he is “firmly off the opinion that while John Davey’s murder was claimed by the UVF, I have no doubt that John was executed by British military personnel authorised at the highest level in the British Government”.
The late 1980s saw an escalation in murderous attacks against members of the republican and nationalist community in the Six Counties. Some of the murders were carried out by unionist paramilitary death squads controlled by the British Army and others directly by undercover British military personnel.
The aim was to terrorise the entire nationalist population, killing Catholics solely because of their religion or perceived political allegiances and, where possible, assassinating leading nationalists and republicans.
Active since the 1950s and throughout the Civil Rights movement, Sinn Féin Councillor John Davey endured constant harassment from British crown forces.
Davey was eventually shot dead in the laneway of his Gulladuff home as he returned from a monthly meeting of Magherafelt District Council on the night of 14 February 1989. The murder was later claimed by the UVF. John Davey’s body was found slumped behind the steering wheel of his car in the laneway approaching his home.
Speaking at the weekend commemoration attended by hundreds of republicans from Counties Derry and Antrim, Martin McGuinness also made reference to human rights lawyer Pat Finucane who was murdered in his Belfast home only two days previous to John Davey, saying both killings “were directed by the British state whose objective was to drive fear into nationalists and republicans. The British state’s policy of collusion ended in abysmal failure.”
Making reference to the recently-published Eames/Bradley report, McGuinness said:
“The British policy of collusion needs to be exposed.”
Martin McGuinness said the strength of republicanism in south Derry was due to the work carried out by people like John Davey.
“John laid the foundation stone for republicanism here in south Derry during many years of struggle and personal sacrifice. He would indeed be truly proud of the achievements of local republican activists across his local area today. Because of the sacrifice of men and women like John Davey, the flame of freedom burns brighter across Ireland today than that at any other time since partition.”
Martin McGuinness described the murdered councillor as being “a colossus of a man in terms of his contribution to the republican struggle” and recalled many visits to the Davey family home, where he found John Davey to be “a man of few words but always thoughtful and considerate”.
“John Davey was one of us. His wife, Mary, and her family are so much part of us – and that is why we gather in such large numbers to remember John today.”