Belfast Telegraph

Tributes as Kingsmill Massacre widow Jean Lemmon dies

Jean Lemmon
Jean Lemmon
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

Tributes have been paid to one of the last widows of the Kingsmill Massacre who “died without justice” more than four decades after the IRA atrocity

Jean Lemmon, aged in her mid-90s, passed away in her sleep at her Bessbrook home nearly 44 years after her husband Joseph was murdered.

He was one of 10 Protestant workmen who were lined up beside a minivan they were travelling in before being executed as they made their way home from a Co Armagh factory on January 5, 1976.

Former Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy said he was “greatly saddened” by the passing of a woman who “carried herself with great dignity and without bitterness in spite of the personal tragedies she had endured in her long life, including Kingsmills”.

Mr Kennedy said Mrs Lemmon was loved and respected by her family, many friends and the entire community. He added: “Her warmth and sense of fun will be long remembered, as well as her dignity and sheer humanity in the face of great personal loss.”

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Joseph Lemmon

UUP councillor David Taylor also expressed his sympathy to Mrs Lemmon’s family.

“It is a matter of great regret that the Kingsmills families are still being denied justice some 43 years after one of the most dastardly events of the entire Troubles and that another family member has died without realising any form of justice.

“However, the fight for maximum justice on Kingsmills will continue,” he said.

Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth (24) was killed in the mass shooting, expressed sadness following the death of the third Kingsmill victims’ campaigner within three months.

His mother Bea Worton (91) passed away in hospital in July. “My mother, Willie Frazer and Mrs Lemmon are all gone now,” Mr Worton said. “She hadn’t been well for a while, but now she has died without ever getting justice.

“It is so sad that she has died without getting the answers that she deserved — she’ll never learn who fired the shots or who gave the orders.”

In 2016, Mrs Lemmon wrote a letter begging a judge not to delay the inquest into her husband’s death so that she could see justice in her lifetime.

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The victims of the Kingsmill massacre (clockwise from top left): Robert Chambers; John Bryans; Joseph Lemmon; James McWhirter; Robert Freeburn; Robert Walker; Reginald Chapman; Kenneth Worton; John McConville and Walter Chapman

She could not attend due to being bed-ridden, as well as close to losing her hearing and sight.

“I have suffered for over 40 years trying to get some justice or recognition in regards to what happened on that terrible night that wicked gunmen took my husband,” her letter read.

“Some of us don’t have that long left on this earth and I would certainly like to see this inquest over before I leave to be with the Lord.”

Earlier this month the families of those killed at Kingsmill, along with the sole survivor of the attack, Alan Black, called for a coroner to “switch off the life support” and bring the stalled inquest “to an expeditious conclusion”.

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