Pastor threatened over Kingsmills march

Published Thursday, 16 February 2012
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A church pastor connected to the controversial march to commemorate the victims of the Kingsmills massacre has received a death threat.

Pastor threatened over Kingsmills march
PastorBarrieHalliday16022012 (© Pacemaker)

A telephone caller stated that if the parade went ahead through the south Armagh village of Whitecross later this month not only would Pastor Barrie Halliday be shot - but his church would be burned down too.

The chilling death threat against him was received by a local Church of Ireland rector on Tuesday night.

In the January 1976 massacre, ten Protestant workmen were shot dead by gunmen after the bus they were travelling in was ambushed on their way home from work.

Pastor Halliday, of Five Mile Hill Pentecostal Church in Bessbrook, told UTV the victims' families "are trying to highlight and raise the issue of the injustice of the Kingmills massacre where nobody was ever caught."

He added: "They decided it was time to try and retrace the steps and bring it back on the radar of the police, the HET and so forth.

However, he said from the very beginning, the parade became "very controversial."

"Now there was violence mentioned but at the end of the day, I'm the local pastor."

"I do feel under threat," he said, before adding that no-one wished to die before their time.

The death threat came the night before the Parades Commission imposed a set of restrictions on the march.

In its determination, the sole survivor of the massacre and two immediate relatives of each of those who were killed or injured in the attack are allowed to proceed through the mainly nationalist village of Whitecross and along the Kingsmills Road to the memorial on Saturday 25 February.

It seems that neither the parade's organisers nor its opposition are happy with this outcome.

Nationalist and Republican politicians opposed to the parade met with the Commission earlier this week, claiming the parade will cause community tensions in the area.

Conor Murphy, Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh, says the organisers should find another route.

"The Parades Commission, I think, rather than trying to find what they considered a compromise should have listened to the community, should have said to the organisers of this parade you can march if you wish from Glenanne to Kingsmills, you can find another route to do that, if you wish to find other ways to highlight your grievances by all means do that.

"But don't foist yourself and this sectarian tension on a community that doesn't want any part of it."

Pastor Halliday said the parade is of "no benefit" if only 25 people are allowed to take part.

"If it's a dignified walk with the photos of the 10 men, the replica of the original mini-bus and 100 plus [people taking part] in a good, sensible silent walk through the village."

Pastor Halliday said prior to the threat, he had approached one of the event's organisers, Willie Frazer of Fair, to request that bands and banners were removed from the parade.

He said this was on record as being removed from the planned parade last Friday at a community association meeting.

"When I seen any controversy in the march, it was removed. Willie would stand and say that."

Mr Frazer also spoke to UTV about his unhappiness over the restrictions.

"Well, we're very disappointed and actually disgusted at the decision that has been brought forward. It is not a decision. It is quite obvious an attempt to hide what took place here that night."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Mark A Stott in Bolton, Lancs, England wrote (1,074 days ago):
There is simply, no place in UK Public Office for people convicted of terrorist offences, no matter how serious, or how spent their covictions may or may not be.
John in Co.antrim wrote (1,076 days ago):
Sinn Fein do not want the march for the simple reason the camera's of the world will be focussed on the event and it will show that Sinn Fein all along has supported a group who murdered 10 innocent men for no reason other than there religion, that hardly fits in with the republican ethos that there armed wing were freedom fighters.
Tommy Atkins in London, England wrote (1,076 days ago):
Will you folks kindly stop calling Peter a "Bitter Little Man", Just remember that when you do so you are highly insulting All the "Bitter Little men ," in N Ireland
Ciaran in Belfast wrote (1,077 days ago):
What people seem to forget is that the day before was the massacre of two families all innocent civilians 6 men murdered 3 of them from Whitecross who the sectarian group named FAIR do not recognize as victims and even went as far to blame a brother of the other 3 for the Kingsmills massacre so pj learn a bit of history before commenting
Frosty in Here wrote (1,077 days ago):
Peter, a "Protestant police force for a Protestant people"? I must have missed that press release. Mark, "millions"? There's about 1.8 million people in Northern Ireland, at least half of which aren't "die-hard loyalists". But for the loss of innocent lives, sometimes I wish they'd just nuke this place and be done with it. However, I support the victims' families' right to commemorate their murders and would say that those who oppose it should be ashamed of themselves, as should those who use it for political point-scoring. For a majority Christian country, Christian forgiveness, love and compassion is undeniably scarce.
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