O’Dowd’s plea for justice 40 years after murders


Relatives of three members of the O’Dowd family who were murdered 40 years ago this week have said their quest for truth has not waned.

In January 1976, the Reaveys and O’Dowds each lost three loved ones at the hands of a notorious Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang reputed to contain dozens of rogue security force members.

Brothers Declan, 19, and Barry O’Dowd, 24, and their uncle Joe, 61, were shot dead by members of the Glenanne gang at a family gathering in Ballydougan, near Gilford, on the night of January 4. Declan and Barry’s father Barney, a member of the SDLP, was seriously injured.

The attack took place only minutes after brothers Anthony, 17, Brian, 22, and John Martin Reavey, 24, were shot at their home near Whitecross.

Declan and Barry O’Dowd’s brother Noel said he has “no doubt” security force collusion was at play. Senior UVF commander Robin “the Jackal” Jackson (now dead) was widely suspected as one of those involved in the shooting though never charged.

“I don’t hold out much hope anyone will ever be brought to justice,” said Mr O’Dowd. “But I would just like to know some answers. I would like to know who planned it, where did it come from, who pin-pointed us? Why was our family targeted? We have always known there was security force involvement in it - where was it sanctioned and why?” said Mr O’Dowd.