Families of those gunned down in the Kingsmills massacre yesterday assembled on the 38th anniversary to remember the 10 textile workers who were murdered.
More than 60 people attended the service, during which a wreath was laid at the new memorial marking the site of the massacre. The service was led by Pastor Barrie Halliday of Five Mile Hill Pentecostal Church in Bessbrook.
UUP MLA for Newry and Armagh, Danny Kennedy, who attended the service, said some of the victims’ relatives “were unable to attend today, but they were there in spirit”.
Mr Kennedy said the memorial service comes a few days before he leads a delegation of Kingsmills relatives to a meeting with the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers in Hillsborough Castle.
During the meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, the group plan to “press for justice and for every possible avenue to be pressed to bring the persons accountable, even at this late stage, to justice”.
Mr Kennedy said: “Thirty-eight long years and still we appeal for justice to be delivered and we will continue to press for that.
“January is a very difficult time for victims’ relatives. The interesting thing is that the next generation are continuing and I am encouraged by that, that people are not forgetting and it is not being set aside.”
Mr Kennedy said after the Kingsmills service, those gathered moved to Kingsmills Presbyterian Church for the unveiling of a memorial plaque to Corporal Clifford Lundy, who was murdered on January 2, 1980.
“His daughter Jennifer unveiled the memorial plaque at the church,” added Mr Kennedy.
“The torch is passing to a new generation now who are equally determined to make sure they are not forgotten and history is not rewritten, and I am encouraged by that.”
Victims representative, Willie Frazer, who helped organise the memorial, said: “Even 38 years later the hurt and suffering is no different and the pain has not eased.
“It is still very real. We saw that again today. The sense of justice is every bit as important now as it was 38 years ago.”
The Families Acting for Innocent Victims spokesman added that when the Haass talks proposals were mentioned amongst the relatives “they did not go down very well”.
Colin Worton, whose 24-year-old brother Kenneth was murdered at Kingsmills, said: “The service seems to get harder every year.”
Alan Black, the sole survivor of the Kingsmills massacre, finds January 5 every year “a very difficult day”.
Yesterday Mr Black, who was shot 18 times in one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles, did not attend the memorial service.
“I am going to spend the day in the house,” he said. “I am just going to spend the day quietly. I was invited to the service but I would rather spend the day quietly.
“I was along with John McConville’s [who was murdered in the atrocity] sisters yesterday and it was sad but it was good to spend time together and talk over things.”
On January 5, 1976, just after 5pm, a red Ford Transit minibus carrying 12 textile workers to Bessbrook was stopped by a man in British Army uniform standing on the road and flashing a torch.
As the bus stopped, 11 masked gunmen with blackened faces and wearing combat jackets came forward and one with “a pronounced English accent” ordered them to line-up beside the bus.
After a Catholic worker was identified by the gunmen and asked to flee the scene, the gunmen opened fire on the remaining workers.