Belfast Telegraph

Stop trying to poke each other's eyes out and help us: Kingsmill survivor plea to warring politicians

By Jonathan Bell

Kingsmill survivor Alan Black has appealed to warring politicians to help him and the families of those killed in the 1976 atrocity instead of "trying to poke each other's eyes out".

Alan Black survived the attack despite being shot 18 times. He was speaking after unionist politicians retweeted a political sketch concerning the fallout from the Barry McElduff Kingsmill video tweet.

It depicted the aftermath of the Kingsmill outrage, with blood running from a bullet-riddled van alongside a bearded character with a loaf of bread on his head with the word "equality" coming from his mouth.

The cartoon is titled ‘Sinn Fein’s red lines’ and when tweeted by cartoonist Brian John Spencer provoked a mixed reaction. Some said it was challenging and making a valid point, while others found it crass and insulting to the victims.


christopher stalford tweet.jpg
The tweet by Christopher Stalford.

Mr Black said the controversy in the past week - which also marked the anniversary of the massacre - had been hard to take.

"If they would help the Kingsmill families and myself with the inquest their time would be far better spent than trying to poke each other's eye out with a sharp stick," he told the BBC.

Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson said victims and survivors were routinely the subject of "ridicule, abuse and blame". She described Barry McElduff's video as a "particularly shocking example" of what people experience on a regular basis.

"That is something which is a terrible disrespect and belittling of people's experience and it needs to stop," she said.

On the cartoon she said she agreed with Alan Black's assertion people were playing politics.

"People need to bear in mind that whilst it is absolutely legitimate and in fact positive to give public voice to victims' issues. So there are many helpful and useful ways to give public voice to victims but at the same time you need to bear in mind individuals have different views and wishes and you need to be careful of making a political point as others will react in different ways.

"There are many instances where people, [like with Kingsmill] have dealt with dignity and resilience with the most dreadful of circumstances find themselves abused, ridiculed or blamed in the public sphere.

"This is something that has to stop, it is never alright no matter who is doing and no matter who they are doing it to

"We need to have an informed debate that must inform those that have a public voice to look at what is respectful, what is personalising something in an unacceptable way and what is making light of something.

"When you make a political point and you use an individual's experience you must make sure it is their voice that is heard."

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