The sole survivor and victims of the IRA Kingsmill massacre are just as important as all other victims of the Troubles, the Taoiseach has insisted.
Enda Kenny was given a graphic, first-hand account of the south Armagh ambush, which saw 11 Protestant men gunned down on their way home from work in 1976.
He met survivor Alan Black and families of the 10 murder victims, who had called for a public apology on behalf of the Irish Government.
"I assured them that there is no hierarchy of victims, and that their concerns are every bit as important to me as the concerns of other victims and their families," Mr Kenny said.
"I told them that the IRA was the common enemy of all of the people of Ireland, of all traditions, north and south, and that their campaign of violence was strongly resisted by successive Irish governments."
The Taoiseach offered his sympathy and said he would reflect on what he had heard during the meeting. But the victims group said it was left disappointed after he declined to make a public apology. Group spokesman Willie Frazer said the group wanted a formal acknowledgement that the state had failed to deal with the IRA during its reign of terror throughout the Troubles.
"We made it quite clear, we're not asking him to apologise for the IRA," said Mr Frazer. "We are asking him to apologise for the lack of ability for the Irish Government in dealing with the IRA. We want to make that quite clear."
Mr Frazer said the group was grateful for the meeting with Mr Kenny and insisted the discussion remained open.
He invited the Taoiseach to south Armagh, where the 11 men were taken from a minibus on their way home from work and gunned down. Only Mr Black survived - even though his body had been riddled by 18 bullets. Those who claimed responsibility said it was a retaliation attack following the killing of six Catholics the night before.
Mr Black, now in his 60s, recounted the day the textile workers were pulled from their bus by a group then calling themselves the South Armagh Republican Action Force. A report from the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) released last year found members of the Provisional IRA had carried out the attack.