Taoiseach to meet Kingsmill massacre families in Armagh

Families of 10 Protestants killed in 1976 believe Government failed to properly police border

File photo dated January 5th, 1976 of the bullet riddled minibus where 10 Protestant textile workers were shot shot dead in an IRA attack near the Co Armagh village of Kingsmill in 1976. Photograph: PA

File photo dated January 5th, 1976 of the bullet riddled minibus where 10 Protestant textile workers were shot shot dead in an IRA attack near the Co Armagh village of Kingsmill in 1976. Photograph: PA

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is on Thursday meeting with relatives of the families of the ten Protestants who were killed by the IRA in the 1976 Kingsmill massacre.

Mr Kenny, who has a number of engagements in Northern Ireland, is scheduled to meet the families in Bessbrook in Co Armagh on Thursday morning. He is also meeting the sole survivor Alan Black.

In 2011 the Historical Enquiries Team reported, as had been generally accepted, that the Provisional IRA carried out the “purely sectarian” and “calculated slaughter” of 10 Protestants on January 5th 1976 near the village of Kingsmill.

The Protestant textile workers were murdered after a bus bringing them home from work was waved down by a man flashing a light near Kingsmill. They were lined up by at least 11 gunmen with the one Catholic among them told to run away.

Ten died while one man, Mr Black survived even though he was struck 18 times.

The families, who have met Mr Kenny before, believe that a Government failure to properly police the Border facilitated the IRA in carrying out the murders and that subsequently the Garda did not properly assist in investigating the killings.

Local Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member Danny Kennedy welcomed today’s meeting. He said it is the “first time a Taoiseach has met in Northern Ireland with the relatives of the Kingsmill families”.

Mr Kennedy said that when he met Mr Kenny in Washington last week he “refreshed” his invitation to him to meet the families.

“I sincerely hope that this meeting represents progress and offers the families real hope that after more than 39 years they may gain some measure of justice for the loss they suffered on that dreadful night,” added Mr Kennedy.

The Taoiseach is also attending a Confederation of British Industry dinner tonight and among a number of engagements is also scheduled to meet relatives of the 11 people killed by the British army in west Belfast in August 1971 in the Ballymurphy massacre.

He is also visiting Northern Ireland in the midst of another political crisis that threatens the Northern Executive and Assembly. This was triggered after Sinn Féin refused to endorse a welfare reform bill going through the Assembly, even though it had agreed to such reform in the Christmas Stormont House Agreement.

Sinn Féin did its u-turn on welfare reform after Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness effectively said it had been duped into believing that monies would be provided to cushion all welfare recipients from cuts applying in Britain.

The DUP, Sinn Féin and the other main Northern parties currently are trying to find a resolution to this latest impasse.