Keep up with Armagh i

Kingsmills inquest has ‘fallen far short of any form of tangible justice’

The killing of 10 innocent men in rural south Armagh in 1976 was an “overtly sectarian attack” carried out by the IRA, an inquest into the Kingsmills Massacre has found.

Ten Protestant workmen were shot dead when a gang ambushed their minibus near Kingsmills on January 5, 1976.

The gunmen stopped their van and asked who among them were Catholic, before instructing the one man who was to leave the scene. The rest of the men were shot.

Alan Black was the sole survivor, despite being shot 18 times.

No-one has ever been held accountable for the murders.

The coroner, Judge Sherrard, said the attack was “ostensibly in direct response” to attacks on the Reavey and O’Dowd families by loyalist terrorists the night before (January 4, 1976) and that it was planned “well in advance”.

The coroner also dismissed rumours that informers were protected after the Kingsmills massacre and that Army officer Robert Nairac “had no role whatsoever”.

He said that he was also satisfied the killings were organised from the Republic of Ireland.

Outside the court on Friday, Alan Black said he was “so disappointed” with the outcome.

He added: “We’re not anywhere near the truth. We need a public inquiry. I would call on everyone that has a friend that got hurt to back us in getting this public inquiry because we’re never going to get the truth without it.

“This has been a band-aid, that’s all and it has left us all so dissatisfied.”

Newry & Armagh MLA William Irwin said the inquest has justified the lack of confidence that many families have had in the process for some time.

Speaking after attending the court proceedings on Friday, the DUP MLA, said: “The Kingsmills massacre has stood as overtly sectarian since 1976. It did not require an inquest to discover this, but it has at least been formally recognised that innocent workmen were selected for murder because of their religion.

“The question can rightly be posed as to how anyone can state that there was ‘no alternative’ to the IRA’s sectarian slaughter of innocent people at Kingsmills.

“Those who still bear the pain of what happened in 1976 have not seen anyone brought to justice, and now have faced obfuscation and evasion from authorities in the Republic of Ireland and others elsewhere. Some who talk most loudly about the need for truth appear only to mean this when it relates to the actions of the security forces.

“Many of the victims lost faith in this process some time ago and it will be of no comfort to them that their stance has been justified. Even when granted an inquest it has not seen the kind of pressure for openness and truth which seems to be thrown behind other processes.

“The families have been through decades of pain and grief because of the actions of republicans. Many of them are people of faith however who rely on the knowledge that even those who evade justice in this life, will not escape it forever.”

DUP Justice Spokesperson Joanne Bunting was also present in court.

She added: “We will continue to stand with innocent victims. Many of those most affected by the Kingsmills massacre have passed away whilst others are now left feeling that they will never see the truth uncovered.

“There is also a fear that there are attempts to run down the clock in relation to other processes in anticipation of the implementation of the legacy act.

“I have requested an update from the Police Ombudsman about the status of that report and sought assurances that it will be published without any delay and that it will not be impacted by the May 1 deadline.”

TUV party chairman, Cusher councillor, Keith Ratcliffe, commented: “Having read and listened to the Coroner’s findings from the Kingsmills Inquest, I firstly wish to say that the thoughts and prayers of myself and TUV are with Alan Black and all the families associated with Kingsmills.

“The toll that this inquest has taken on them is undoubtedly huge. But one must admire the strength and decorum shown in their pursuit of Justice for their loved ones.

“Upon hearing the findings, I like many no doubt, was once again reminded of the unspeakable barbarity of this act of terror. The up close and personal nature of Kingsmills singles it out in the annals of our dark past.

“The evil required to gun innocent men down before finishing them off in such an intimate way is stark.

“It is worth remembering the sickening hypocrisy of the political cheerleaders of these men.

“On the one hand they talk about respect, on the other they post videos on Facebook with Kingsmills bread on their head.

“Regarding the inquest however, it is clear that it has fallen far short of any form of tangible justice. I am in total support of the families’ call for a full public inquest. It is totally unsatisfactory. The Kingsmills families deserve equitable and fair treatment, as others have received.

“Tough questions must now be asked. What matters more? Cover for republicans or truth and justice for real and genuine innocent victims?”

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said the inquest “has failed at every level” and criticised the failure to name those responsible for the shooting.

Mr Beattie has called on the government to hold a public inquiry into the massacre.

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Office said: “We extend our deepest sympathies to the Kingsmill families.

“The coroner’s findings confirm that this was a horrific terrorist atrocity, committed by the IRA, which had absolutely no justification.

“We hope the findings delivered today give some comfort to the families affected.”

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Most read today

More in Markethill