Garda Kingsmills offer ‘bid to divide and conquer families’

Kingsmills survivor Alan Black said that he was offered a private meeting with senior Garda
Kingsmills survivor Alan Black said that he was offered a private meeting with senior Garda

An offer of a private meeting with Garda to the sole survivor of the Kingsmills massacre may have been an attempt to divide and conquer the families, it has been claimed.

Since early 2014 the coroner, Judge Brian Sherrard, has repeatedly appealed to the Garda to appear at the ongoing legacy inquest into the atrocity.

Despite being shot 18 times, Alan Black survived the IRA attack which saw his 10 Protestant work colleagues slain in 1976 in south Armagh.

He too has made repeated calls for Garda to appear at the legacy inquest.

In Saturday’s News Letter he said that two men called at his Bessbrook home recently and offered to set up a private meeting about Kingsmills with senior Garda at Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in Co Wicklow.

Mr Black refused, citing concerns that his attendance could be used against him, to claim that Garda were fully cooperating with the inquest – which he believes is not true.

But now Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth was killed in the attack, questioned the purpose of the proposed meeting.

“I am glad Alan refused it and am annoyed it was only offered to one person,” Mr Worton said.

“It would lead me to believe that many things have been said and done behind closed doors already in relation to Kingsmills.

“It would make me think they are trying to get someone on their side, to say that the Garda have been helping us, when in fact they haven’t.”

Garda say they do not have legal powers to direct an officer to attend the inquest, although the families’ lawyers counter that they should ask for an officer to volunteer. PSNI officers have attended similar hearings in the Republic of Ireland on the same voluntary basis, the lawyers say.

Mr Worton added: “There were 10 men killed as well as Alan [being shot] so at least some of the other families should have been asked to attend too.”

He believes the intention was “to divide and conquer” the families and to “get someone on their side to go back and confront the rest of the families to say, ‘Look, the guards are doing their best’. To me that looks like divide and conquer.

“If Alan had attended on his own, that would have left them with just one opinion in the room where they should have had 10”.

A spokeswoman for Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation declined to comment. On Friday she responded to Mr Black’s comments saying the centre does not comment on individual cases.

The News Letter invited the Garda to respond to Mr Black but it declined to offer any comment.

READ MORE: Kingsmills survivor rejects offer of private meeting with Garda