On the 15th of May, 1977, Robert Nairac went to meet a potential informant at a pub, The Three Steps Inn, at a place called Drumimtee. Shortly after midnight he disappeared and no trace of him has ever been found.It is without doubt a fact that he was murdered by the Provisional I.R.A, and members of that organisation have been identified and tried for the murder but no body has ever been located.
- Alistair Kerr
Nairac was a captain in the Grenadier Guards and at the time of his murder was working - ostensibly - as Military Liaison Officer (MLO) and co-located with, amongst others, the S.A.S. He was not a "badged " member of that organisation although he had received considerable training with them.
His visit to that particular bar that night - an establishment deep in the so-called bandit country of South Armagh and well known as a haunt for terrorists - was recorded and approved, albeit with safeguards supposedly in place. These measures appear not to have been correctly implemented and so the scene was set for disaster.
The story of Robert Nairac will be familiar to a lot of people, especially those who were part of Operation Banner. The setting of his main base of operations, Bessbrook Mill, has a place in the thoughts of most who served in the Province and indeed may have seen or known him.This new book on Captain Nairac seeks to flesh out his story and present a clearer picture of both the man and the events.
The author has done a fine job of delving into the man, his background and family. Nairac was without doubt a charismatic and charming man. An excellent soldier who was marked for stardom, indeed his promotion to Major had already been approved which was unusual for one so young in both age and service. He was a talented sportsman, excelling in boxing and rugby.
Possessed of a fine voice and a competent guitar player, he was at ease either with classical music or popular songs. Popular with his troops and respected by all who served with him and even with a number of the locals.
The book doesn't especially give defining answers yet it does clear away a great deal of the fog that still surrounds the mystery of his disappearance. The author has researched his subject closely and well and his sources are enviable.
There is still dissent about the actions, and behaviour of Captain Nairac, even all these years later, and Alistair Kerr does not shrink from from addressing these issues. Undoubtedly there are smoke and mirrors at high levels, accusations and counter claims about his methods and criticisms of his behaviour and the author does not shrink from presenting these whilst offering justifying and mitigating reasoning.
Altogether an excellent book, one that opened my eyes to the circumstances of the event and stripped away the impressions gained from headlines and reports. Well worth reading and an essential book for those who served in the province, as well as being a most useful account of a period that is coming back to haunt us.