Tributes paid in Parliament to murdered Sunderland soldier Robert Nairac

Parliamentary tributes have been paid to a murdered Sunderland soldier on the 42nd anniversary of his disappearance.

By Gavin Ledwith, Digital Specialist
Thursday, 16 May, 2019, 13:10
Captain Robert Nairac pictured in the mid 1970s.

Captain Robert Nairac, who was raised in Thornhill Gardens, off Tunstall Road, Ashbrooke, was executed by the IRA on May 15, 1977, while working undercover in Northern Ireland during the province's bloody Troubles.

His body has still to recovered and is believed to be buried in dense countryside across the border in the Republic of Ireland.

Following a new plea for information to help discover his remains, a former soldier who served under Captain Nairac in the Grenadier Guards has paid tribute to him in the House of Commons.

Sir Mike Penning, the Conservative MP for Hemel Hempstead, said on May 15: "Captain Robert Nairac was my captain.

"He was a gentleman who, in the boxing ring, broke my nose — the first person to have done so.

"We still do not know what happened to him.

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Related content: Murdered Sunderland soldier's life, death and the ongoing search for his body"The country owes a debt to our soldiers in Northern Ireland, and particularly to those who have given the utmost for their country.

"Mr Speaker, is there any way for me to mark 42 years since Captain Robert Nairac gave his life for this country and for the peace of Northern Ireland?"

Speaker John Bercow said he was "very open to the idea of recognition in the way he suggests" and offered Sir Mike a meeting to discuss the matter in greater detail.

Captain Nairac, 28, was reputed to have sung Republican songs in the pro-Catholic Three Step pub, in Dromintee, South Armagh, before he was kidnapped, taken over the nearby border and executed.

Six people have been convicted in connection with the murder although none revealed what happened to his body.

The idea of formally recognising Captain Nairac was raised amid a wider discussion on a possible new Parliamentary Bill aimed at restricting historic prosecutions of veterans to a 10-year period.

Critics fear that soldiers who served during the Troubles may be excluded from the proposed Statute of Limitations.