Kingsmills families deserve the truth
Even among the horrors of the Troubles, the Kingsmills massacre stands out. It was the evening when 10 Protestant workmen on their way home were stopped, lined up against a ditch and shot dead by the IRA. One other man survived and a Catholic colleague was let go.
As the surviving relatives of the deceased see their long campaign for a proper inquest into the murders reach fruition today, one only has to read the comments of some of them to see how the anguish, the questions, the desire for truth and even for justice still burn within each of them.
These evil killings happened 40 years ago and, like thousands of other surviving relatives, the Kingsmills families are still, inexcusably, waiting for answers to questions like who was responsible for the killings? Why were these men singled out? Where have police investigations led? Are suspects still alive?
We know that these murders happened during particularly barbarous times and that keeping tabs on the body count, never mind finding the perpetrators, was a difficult enough task.
Yet we must never forget that this slaughter of the innocents has left a bitter legacy. There are many people whose faith in justice and the integrity of State institutions has been diminished by the failure to deal with that legacy.
Thankfully, Northern Ireland is now a much changed society from those days when people going about their day's work could be murdered with an almost casual callousness, but the shadow of those days still hangs over the lives of so many people. Their lives changed irrevocably in an instant, and for them a part of their memory remains frozen at the time when their loved ones died.
As with the Kingsmills families, some have gone to their graves having never been given answers to the questions that raced through their minds every day.
In a way, the Kingsmills families are a snapshot of the bereaved from the Troubles. Some of them want to know what happened, and why and possibly who carried out the murders. That, for them, would be closure.
For others there remains a desire to see the guilty, if they are still alive, punished. Tellingly, one said that we still pursue Nazi war criminals. To many bereaved people, those who killed their loved ones are of that same ilk. Let us hope that the Kingsmills families gain at least some of the answers they are looking for.