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Survivor of Kingsmill shootings dedicates honour to those who supported him

Alan Black will be made an MBE in recognition of services to the community in south Armagh.

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Kingsmill survivor Alan Black with his dog Libby at his home in Bessbrook, Co Armagh (Brian Lawless/PA)

Kingsmill survivor Alan Black with his dog Libby at his home in Bessbrook, Co Armagh (Brian Lawless/PA)

Kingsmill survivor Alan Black with his dog Libby at his home in Bessbrook, Co Armagh (Brian Lawless/PA)

The sole survivor of the Kingsmill shooting has dedicated his New Year honour to those who have supported him.

Alan Black was made an MBE for services to the community in south Armagh in the latest Queen’s honours list.

Reacting to the recognition, Mr Black said, when initially informed, he was dumbfounded and assumed it was a prank.

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Posters of the 10 Protestant workmen killed in the Kingsmill massacre in 1976 (clockwise from top left) Joseph Lemmon, Walter Chapman, John Bryans, Kenneth Worton, Robert Walker, Robert Freeborn, Robert Chambers, John McConville, James McWhirter and Reginald Chapman

Posters of the 10 Protestant workmen killed in the Kingsmill massacre in 1976 (clockwise from top left) Joseph Lemmon, Walter Chapman, John Bryans, Kenneth Worton, Robert Walker, Robert Freeborn, Robert Chambers, John McConville, James McWhirter and Reginald Chapman

PA

Posters of the 10 Protestant workmen killed in the Kingsmill massacre in 1976 (clockwise from top left) Joseph Lemmon, Walter Chapman, John Bryans, Kenneth Worton, Robert Walker, Robert Freeborn, Robert Chambers, John McConville, James McWhirter and Reginald Chapman

But he said, after verifying it and reflecting, he decided he wanted to accept for all those who supported him over the years.

“I did my bit for community relations but so many people helped me along the way and the people who supported me down through the years, some very tough years, and I’m going to dedicate to them and the Kingsmill families, I am going to accept it on their behalf,” he told the PA news agency.

“There was some great people around me … religion never came into it with me, I don’t care where they go on a Sunday or if they go anywhere.

“I accept it on their behalf”

Mr Black was shot 18 times in the hail of bullets that killed 10 of his work colleagues on the outskirts of the south Armagh village of Kingsmill in 1976.

The IRA was widely blamed for what has become known as the Kingsmill massacre.

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The bullet riddled minibus near Whitecross in South Armagh where 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead by IRA terrorists (PA)

The bullet riddled minibus near Whitecross in South Armagh where 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead by IRA terrorists (PA)

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The bullet riddled minibus near Whitecross in South Armagh where 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead by IRA terrorists (PA)

The factory workers were ambushed as they travelled along the Whitecross to Bessbrook road in rural south Armagh on January 5 1976 in an attack seen as a reprisal for a series of loyalist killings in the same area in the days beforehand.

The men’s minibus was stopped by a man waving a red light and those on board were asked their religion by a camouflaged gunman with an English accent.

The workers had initially mistaken the man for a soldier.

The only Catholic workman was ordered to run away.

The killers, who had been hidden in the hedges, ordered the remaining 11 Protestant men to line up outside the van and then opened fire.

Mr Black was the only survivor.

Three years later, he went on to set up a cross community football youth club is home village of Bessbrook in 1979.

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Kingsmill survivor Alan Black with his dog Libby at his home in Bessbrook, Co Armagh (Brian Lawless/PA)

Kingsmill survivor Alan Black with his dog Libby at his home in Bessbrook, Co Armagh (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

Kingsmill survivor Alan Black with his dog Libby at his home in Bessbrook, Co Armagh (Brian Lawless/PA)

“It wasn’t to get the communities together, it was to keep them together because Bessbrook was always integrated and had good community relations,” he said.

“Well, we started off with one team and we ended up with nine, there are nine at the moment.”

Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor welcomed the honour for Mr Black.

“This is a much-deserved award to Alan Black, who despite enduring and surviving one of the most horrific events of the entire Troubles, has shown nothing but dignity and humanity throughout his life,” he said.

“I want to extend my warm congratulations to Alan and his family and many friends.

“I know his recognition in the New Year Honours List will be well received by people locally and much further afield as both he and the Kingsmill families continue their battle for truth and justice, even after 45 long years.”

PA


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