05 January 2006

Families recall Kingsmills massacre

Belfast Telegraph

By Chris Thornton
05 January 2006

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Wreath-laying ceremony on 25th anniversary - Examiner photo

Relatives of ten Protestant workmen murdered in the Kingsmills massacre were due to gather at the scene of the attack for a memorial service today, the 30th anniversary of the killings.

Another service is due to be held in Bessbrook, the Co Armagh village where nine of the victims lived, on Sunday.

The ten men were gunned down by the IRA on January 5, 1976, as they returned home from work in a cloth factory in Glenanne.

They were ordered off the bus and shot after the only Catholic on the bus had been singled out and ordered to run off. Of the 11 men who remained, only one survived the shooting - despite being wounded 18 times.

The massacre was the terrible culmination of months of sectarian attacks, which had seen six members of two Catholic families fatally wounded the night before.

Today's service was being held as a former loyalist paramilitary recalled that the UVF planned "particularly gruesome" attacks in response to Kingsmills.

William McCaughey, who operated as a police officer and loyalist paramilitary in Armagh, said the UVF had organised guns and cars to murder nuns at a convent in Newry. He said the attack was called off because of the weight of public opinion.

"After Kingsmills there was never the same intensity on either side," McCaughey said. "It was quite obviously the worst period of the Troubles in that, regardless of the killing rate, fear was at its height."

The murders are due to be reinvestigated by the PSNI's historic review team.

Victims' group Fair claims it has new evidence about the murders, but will not give the material to police unless the Government drops its planned OTR legislation.

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