Sole Kingsmill survivor calls for public inquiry after ‘disappointing inquest’

Sole Kingsmill survivor calls for public inquiry after ‘disappointing inquest’

There must be a public inquiry into the Kingsmill murders, the sole survivor of the atrocity has said, expressing disappointment after a “Band-Aid inquest”.

Alan Black was shot a number of times and left for dead among 10 of his slain workmates on a Co Armagh roadside by IRA terrorists on January 5 1976.

The long-running inquest on Friday found the shooting dead of the 10 Protestant workmen was an “overtly sectarian attack by the IRA”.

Coroner Brian Sherrard said there had been no recognition from the perpetrators or their representatives of the “utter wrongness” of the attack.

Speaking outside Belfast Coroner’s Court on Friday, Mr Black said he is still searching for the truth, describing the inquest as a “Band-Aid”.

He said: “I am so disappointed with this inquest.

“At every turn of the way they have hidden behind national security. These murders happened 48 years ago, what on earth, how can national security be compromised by murders that happened 48 years ago. It beggars belief.

“We’re not anywhere near the truth. We need a public inquiry. I would call on everyone that has a friend that got hurt to back us in getting this public inquiry because we’re never going to get the truth without it.

“This has been a Band-Aid, that’s all and it has left us all so dissatisfied.”

Mr Black also expressed his frustrations with the Irish Government, saying they had questions to answer about the shootings, which took place close to the border.

“It’s frustrating, counting all the preliminary inquests, we’re at this about 10 years now. I was a young 70 when I started out with this, now I’m an old 80, and I’m still as frustrated as I was back then, and it’s not getting any easier,” he said.

Kingsmill massacre inquest
Kingsmill Massacre survivor Alan Black speaks to the media outside Laganside Courts (Oliver McVeigh/PA)

Asked about the lack of engagement by the IRA with the inquest, Mr Black responded: “Why would they?

“Why would they implicate themselves… turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

“Kingsmill is something they’re totally ashamed of. They don’t know how to handle it.”

“Now that the inquest is over and was so unsatisfactory, we really want the help of our elected representatives and everyone of good will to get behind us and really support us in calling for a public inquiry.”

Mr Black was supported by his solicitor, Barry O’Donnell, Karen Armstrong, sister of John McConville who was killed in the Kingsmill attack, former UUP MLA Danny Kennedy and a number of DUP representatives outside court.

Mr Kennedy echoed his call for a public inquiry, and said all public representatives should demand of Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris that he grant a full independent public inquiry.

“That these issues can be finally explored properly and independently because I think the justice system has denied us, the inquest has failed us, the security services have betrayed us and the Irish Government are nothing more than contemptible hypocrites, that’s how we feel today as we leave this court,” he added.

Ms Armstrong said they had felt a big responsibility to keep going with the inquest across almost a decade and said they felt they had to see it through.

Barry McElduff Twitter post
Posters of the 10 Protestant workmen killed in the Kingsmill massacre in 1976 (Niall Carson/PA)

“It was a hard afternoon listening to the graphics of that awful night, and at this stage we would like to call for a public inquiry,” she said.

Earlier in a joint statement, the McConville and Black families were critical of a decision by the coroner not to name two dead suspects.

They said: “We were distressed that the coroner could not name two deceased suspects who were suspected to have been involved in the murder of John and his colleagues and the attempted murder of Alan Black.

“All suspects in the case were allocated cipher references to both identify and protect their anonymity during the inquest process.”

They added: “Concealing the names of dead suspects leads only to conjecture and misinformation, rumour and suspicion, which the inquest system should serve to dispel and allay.

“We are also gravely concerned that there are persons suspected to have been involved in the Kingsmill massacre who are being protected by the Crown for a wider political purpose.”

The families said they intend to make representations to Mr Heaton-Harris in the following days to demand a public inquiry.

The legal firm representing the two families said the inquest proceedings had shown “collusion had no boundaries” during the Troubles.

The KRW Law statement said: “The verdict and findings of the inquest today represent the next stage on a fraught legal journey.

“The next step (is) to demand a public inquiry into the Kingsmill massacre.

“This should be established by way of section 1 of the Inquiries Act 2005 and conducted in accordance with human rights standards of investigation.”