Belfast Telegraph

Witness 'sexing up' claims of British soldier's role in Kingsmill massacre

A witness has been accused of "sexing up" claims undercover British soldier Robert Nairac was present at the Kingsmill massacre in Northern Ireland.

Gerald Byrne was one of the first people at the scene after the 1976 slaughter of 10 Protestant workmen by the IRA in South Armagh and told an inquest he remembered the smell of death and seeing blood running down the street.

He gave conflicting accounts of the alleged involvement of Captain Nairac, who was abducted from a bar the following year and murdered by the IRA.

In a July 2013 statement to a victims' group Mr Byrne said: "Recently my close friend told me that Bob Nairac was the man who stopped the minibus."

The gang ambushed the textile workmen on their way home. They opened fire after picking out the sole Catholic in the van and telling him to flee.

Alan Black was the only survivor.

Capt Nairac, a Grenadier Guardsman, was posthumously awarded the George Cross - the citation praised his resistance to his abductors and bravery under "a succession of exceptionally savage assaults".

Mr Byrne, from South Armagh, is in a relationship with a woman who was previously married to a member of the security forces.

He said she disclosed the details of Capt Nairac's alleged involvement.

In one statement before the inquest Mr Byrne said his partner described coming home to find Capt Nairac bouncing the children on his knee and discussing the murders at Kingsmill.

Mr Byrne's partner refused to give direct evidence to the inquest. His evidence has changed several times over the years.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) barrister Peter Coll QC said: "You are sexing this up.

"You are creating a seam of disinformation which pushes the focus away from IRA involvement to British military involvement in this terrible atrocity."

The construction company owner denied this.

He said: "I am merely relating what I have been told. There is no desire to create disinformation."

He said he still lies in bed reliving the memory of the atrocity and can remember seeing the bullet holes after gunmen opened fire on a remote road.

"The smell of the scene was indescribable. It was the smell of death. The blood was running down the road," he said.

He arrived in a vehicle driven by his brother-in-law.

"My hair rose up on my head," he told the Belfast inquest.

He lost two stone in weight due to not eating afterwards, he said.

Mr Coll said the MoD would show that Capt Nairac was not in Northern Ireland when Kingsmill took place.

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