Kingsmill survivor welcomes inquests

Kingsmill survivor welcomes inquests

The only survivor of the 1976 Kingsmill Massacre, in which ten Protestant workmen were murdered, has welcomed the new inquests that have been ordered into their deaths.

On Wednesday it was revealed that Attorney General John Larkin QC interveneddue to new information uncovered by a Historical Enquiries Team report.

The 1976 massacre was one of the darkest episodes in Northern Ireland's troubled past.

The victims were on their way home when they were ambushed by gunmen near Bessbrook in Co Armagh on 5 January 1976.

They were ordered out of their vehicle, lined up and forced to reveal their religion.

Then they were shot dead. No one has ever been brought to justice over the atrocity.

Thirty-seven years on, the HET uncovered new evidence that the IRA was responsible for the killings.

It also uncovered intelligence linked to the killings which pointed to the involvement of an unidentified ex-British soldier.

We don't want to pass it onto another generation - it has to be sorted out now.

Alan Black, Kingsmill survivor

Alan Black, was shot 18 times by gunmen during the massacre, but survived.

"I am delighted for the families that this inquest is going to be reopened," he told UTV.

"I hope this time that the powers that be don't try and protect anyone don't try and cover anything up, to say it as it was and tell the truth."

He also said he is willing to give evidence at the new inquests into the deaths.

"It will be painful, there's no getting round it, but it has to be done. It has to be done for the sake of the families who are left and their children and grandchildren."

He hopes the IRA will admit responsibility for the killings.

"Hold their hands up to it," he added. "Say yes we did it, it was whatever reason, give whatever reason they want, hold their hands up to it, they are still denying that they were involved in this."

UUP Newry & Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy has called on the Justice Minister David Ford to give the case priority.

"Well the cost of truth can never be quantified or never be set out as a reason for not establishing that truth," he told UTV.

"The truth about Kingsmills needs to be explained and the Justice Minister needs to make sure that that happens as quickly as possible.

"I will be asking David Ford to properly resource the coroner's service, the legal facilities that are necessary to bring that cause forward because I believe the public interest in it is so significant that it deserves to be brought forward even in advance of other cases given the length of time that the relatives of Kingsmills have waited for truth."

The issues surrounding Kingsmills and the linked murders which were carried out in the South Armagh area are so serious that priority must be given to having the Kingsmills case re-examined without any further undue delay.

Campaign spokesperson

Victims campaign group Justice Innocent Victims of Terrorism Ltd have said they will also be meeting with the minister to press him to properly resource the inquests.

"This judgement is far from the end game in the families' pursuit of Justice but it is certainly a step in the right direction and is something tangible which can be built upon," a statement said.

"The truth of Kingsmills must come out, it weighs heavy on many people's hearts - Justice must prevail. Those culpable for this barbaric crime must be held accountable before the law."

DUP Victims Spokesman Jeffrey Donaldson MP has also cautiously welcomed the announcement but warned the inquests were not a substitute for a new police enquiry.

"The inquest will examine the circumstances of this terrorist act and the causes of death but will not have the power to arrest or follow up on new lines of enquiry," the Lagan Valley MP said.

"The Kingsmill families have not seen anyone brought to justice for this heinous crime. This inquest, whilst helpful in re-examining the circumstances, will not lead to prosecutions. I also have doubts about the resources which the Coroner has and the current backlog of cases to be considered.

"Prosecutions can only come with a thorough police investigation, examining the evidence that has been presented on behalf of the families. Evidence that points clearly to the involvement of the Provisional IRA in these vile sectarian murders.

"The real closure which the families seek is justice. They long to see the day when the terrorists who callously murdered those ten Protestant workers are brought before our courts and prosecuted."

Alliance Lagan Valley MLA Trevor Lunn also welcomed the decision by the Attorney General to order the Coroner to conduct new inquests.

"The Kingsmills massacre was one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles. It is only right that the families should be given the truth of what happened to their loved ones 37 years ago," he said.

"I would like to pay tribute to the efforts of the families who have campaigned in a dignified and honourable manner.

"This inquest has further highlighted the issues that are still unresolved in relation to the legacy of the past. It is important that the Richard Haass led talks will produce a positive outcome on the past and the other shared future issues it will discuss."

© UTV

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