Man who lost his brother at Kingsmill says First Minister in waiting’s comments ‘sickening’
The brother of a man murdered at Kingsmill has branded as “sickening” Michelle O’Neill’s comments that there was no alternative to the IRA campaign.
Colin Worton’s sibling Kenneth was one of 10 Protestant workmen shot dead in the 1976 atrocity.
He said: “There was always an alternative to violence, the IRA just chose not to use it.
“The alternative to killing people is not killing people, it’s as simple as that. Nobody, on either side of the divide, should have chosen the gun or the bomb. Nobody should have killed anyone else.
“At Kingsmill, it was not a case of shooting armed men in a fair fight. My brother and his friends were armed only with lunchboxes and flasks.”
Mr Worton said the remarks illustrated Sinn Fein’s mindset: “It’s a very narrow one. For 30 years the IRA was wedded to the bomb and the bullet, and Sinn Fein is still trying to justify it. I don’t think they’ll ever change.”
Ms O’Neill’s comments were made in an interview for the BBC’s Red Lines podcast.
The Sinn Fein deputy leader, whose father was an IRA prisoner, said one of her earliest memories was the sound of Army vehicles coming to the front door as her family home was raided.
She said: “I don’t think any Irish person ever woke up one morning and thought that conflict was a good idea, but the war came to Ireland.
“I think at the time there was no alternative, but now, thankfully, we have an alternative to conflict and that’s the Good Friday Agreement, and that’s why it’s so precious to us all.
“My whole adult life has been building the peace process. I wish the conditions were never here that actually led to conflict, I wish that so many people didn’t have the horrible experience that they’ve had throughout the conflict days.
“The only way we’re ever going to build a better future is actually to understand that it’s OK to have a different take on the past.”
She added: “My narrative is a very different one to someone who’s perhaps lost a loved one at the hands of republicans.
“But we need to be mature enough to be able to say: ‘That’s OK, we’ll have to agree to differ on that one, but let’s make sure that the conditions never exist again that we find ourselves in that scenario’.”
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: “There was never a justification for violence.
“Even in Northern Ireland’s darkest days the overwhelming majority of our people respected democracy, the rule of law and — where they felt passionately about a particular cause — took part in peaceful protest.”
He said while Ms O’Neill had spoken about being a First Minister for everyone, “the mask has well and truly slipped”.
He added: “Hundreds of our citizens, from all faiths and backgrounds, were callously targeted by the IRA. They were entirely innocent.
“They did not stand in the way of the political cause Sinn Fein still espouse today, yet they were butchered by terrorists.
“No circumstances, of any day or generation, justified this.”
TUV councillor Stephen Cooper said: “The claim by Sinn Fein’s leader in Northern Ireland that there ‘was no alternative’ to IRA terrorism is a telling insight into the mindset of someone who claims that she wants to be a First Minister for everyone.”
Victims campaigner Kenny Donaldson also condemned the comments.
“Whatever grievance (perceived or real) people experienced within this society, it never legitimised the murder of one neighbour by another,” he said.