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Not too late to get justice for families of these massacres

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 02/01/2016

On January 4, 1976, three UVF gunmen burst into a house at Whitecross and shot dead John Martin Reavey and his brother Brian. A third brother Anthony died from his wounds later
On January 4, 1976, three UVF gunmen burst into a house at Whitecross and shot dead John Martin Reavey and his brother Brian. A third brother Anthony died from his wounds later

On January 4, 1976, three UVF gunmen burst into a house at Whitecross and shot dead John Martin Reavey and his brother Brian. A third brother Anthony died from his wounds later.

Just minutes later, the same gang entered the O'Dowd family home, gunning down Barry O'Dowd, his brother Declan and their uncle Joe.

On January 5, a minibus carrying home mill workers from a Glenanne textile factory was ambushed by armed men at Kingsmill. The workers were lined up and shot in cold blood. There were only two survivors - one man was allowed to escape by the killers and Alan Black, who miraculously recovered from his extensive injuries.

These were most savage sectarian attacks. The Reavey brothers were Catholics, as was the man who was allowed to escape the Kingsmill massacre. The others who died were all Protestants.

In today's paper we carry interviews with Mr Black and with the relatives of some of those who died. It all makes heart-rending reading.

Alan Black recalls the screams and fear of some of the men who died at Kingsmill. Despite eighteen bullet wounds, he survived and he recalls the kindness of a Newry priest who comforted him in hospital, and afterwards.

After his release from hospital, life was a long torment for Alan, and it is no wonder that he anticipates with dread the anniversary of those awful events as January approaches each year.

In another interview, Eugene Reavey recalls how the death of the brothers traumatised the whole family, and how his mother missed them every day until she herself died three years ago.

Eugene remains haunted by his loss, and even now he sees glimpses of his brother in other people. This is the kind of heartache which we can hardly begin to comprehend.

These are crimes which cry out for justice, but even at this late stage there is little sign of the killers being brought to book. Our collective inability to achieve this objective remains a dark stain on our society, and it is time for wrongs to be righted.

The UUP's Danny Kennedy is totally justified in challenging Sinn Fein to come clean and admit that the Provisional IRA was responsible for the Kingsmill massacre, and Eugene Reavey is also justified in asking the Reverend Kyle Paisley to retract the remarks made by his father Ian accusing him of involvement in the Kingsmill atrocity. This unwarranted slur on the innocent Mr Reavey must be removed.

Belfast Telegraph

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