Sunday 18 March 2018

Mystery remains over 'English' IRA man at centre of massacre

Alan Murray

A TERRORIST with an English accent who halted the minibus carrying workmen massacred by the IRA at Kingsmill in 1976 has never been identified, the families of the victims have been told.

Investigators from the PSNI's Historical Enquiries Team (HET) who briefed relatives of the 10 Protestant victims on Thursday, have drawn a blank on his identity.

This is in spite of being given access to intelligence files on IRA members operating in south Armagh in the early years of the Troubles.

One man, Alan Black, survived the massacre only because the body of a workmate lay on top of him, shielding him from a coup-de-grace bullet to the head which all the other victims received.

The horrific story of the slaughter near Bessbrook was retold on Thursday in south Armagh at the office of the victims' group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR).

The HET expects to publish its report on the Kingsmill massacre later this year.

Relatives of the 10 men murdered on the night of January 5, 1976, were told by HET officers that the massacre was probably planned well in advance and wasn't triggered by the murders of six members of the Reavey and O'Dowd families by the UVF the previous evening.

A man waving a red torch and with his face blackened brought the workmen's bus to a halt on its way from the textile factory in Glenanne where they worked.

The workers were then ordered from the bus at what they thought was a British army checkpoint.

But as they were lined up against the minibus, a Catholic colleague was told to run away and not look back. Seconds later, bursts of gunfire from four weapons cut down the Protestant workers.

Then one bullet was fired into the heads of all but one of the victims as they lay on the ground in order to ensure they were dead, the grieving relatives were told.

Willie Frazer from FAIR said all of the relatives who attended the briefing were visibly distressed at the account given by the HET officers.

"It was a long time ago but the hurt is still massive", he said.

The victims campaigner said he and his fellow FAIR workers had continually asked who could have been the terrorist with the English accent who stopped the minibus -- but they too have drawn a blank.

He added: "We have asked everyone we can think of who served in the security forces at the time who this could have been -- if the accent was genuine -- but we have been unable to put a name to him."

Sunday Independent

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