Belfast Telegraph

Kingsmill remembered 44 years on as families' justice quest continues

Pastor Barrie Halliday speaking at the Kingsmill memorial service at the scene of the atrocity in Co Armagh
Pastor Barrie Halliday speaking at the Kingsmill memorial service at the scene of the atrocity in Co Armagh
Some of the families of the victims
May Quinn, whose brother Robert Walker was killed in the massacre, lays flowers at the memorial

By Aine McMahon

A memorial service marking the 44th anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre has been held at the site in south Armagh where 10 Protestant workers were shot dead.

The textile workers were shot when their minibus was ambushed outside the village of Kingsmill on their way home from work on January 5, 1976.

Those on board were asked their religion, and the only Catholic was ordered to run away. The killers, who had hidden in hedges, forced the 11 remaining men to line up outside the van before opening fire. Alan Black was the sole survivor.

The attack took place close to where Catholic brothers John Martin Reavey (24) and Brian Reavey (22) were shot dead a day earlier in Whitecross by the UVF. A third brother Anthony (17) died several weeks later from his wounds.

On the same day as the Reavey murders, three members of the O'Dowd family were killed near Gilford by the same UVF gang.

Barry O'Dowd (24) and his brother Declan (16) died along with their uncle Joe (16) after armed and masked men burst into their home during a family reunion. Families and friends of the Kingsmill victims held a commemorative service yesterday morning to mark the anniversary of the attack, which took place on a small rural road in south Co Armagh.

The families and victims' campaigners gathered at the scene where the killings took place 44 years ago. They laid wreaths at the spot and said prayers during a short service. A memorial there lists the names of those who died, featuring gold lettering against a polished black background.

Pastor Barrie Halliday said the families of the victims are "still in the dark".

"The families still have no answers. There is no closure for the families four decades on and they still feel the same anguish," he said.

"The inquest is stuck in the mud but the families are optimistic the new legislation may mean we get some answers from the Guards (Garda)."

Gardai will be permitted to give evidence at Troubles era inquests in Northern Ireland after urgent legislation was passed by the Oireachtas last year.

No one has ever been convicted of the murders, which have been widely blamed on the IRA, although it never admitted responsibility.

The Kingsmill inquest opened in May 2016. Proceedings were delayed shortly afterwards when a palm print found inside the van suspected of being the getaway vehicle was positively matched. The inquest resumed sittings in 2017 and there have been more than 30 sessions.

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