A bereaved relative of one of the 10 men murdered at Kingsmills has sent out a clear message to the killers – we are nothing like you.
May Quinn was the first to take to the witness box at Court 13 of Belfast’s Laganside complex on Tuesday, for the second hearing of the new inquest into the sectarian bloodbath in south Armagh in 1976.
The proceedings were short but highly emotional, with three witnesses giving testimony about loved ones they had lost.
The case is taking place over 40 years after the atrocity and the cost of this time lapse was evident in court, with the coroner being told that some close family members of the victims had died in the years leading up to this new probe.
Mrs Quinn, 81, confirmed tdetails of her brother Robert ‘Bobby’ Walker who had died in the massacre – that he was from Listrunchon, worked as a driver, and was married – before offering her recollections of him as a person.
He was a “highly thought-of member” of Tullyallen Presbyterian Church, and a member of the Orange Order.
“He was a great mechanic, and also a plumber; nothing was too hard for him to do,” she said.
“No education or anything, no training. But he could have done any one of those jobs.
“He was always helping and working for other people – he never stopped working.”
Speaking of the 46-year-old’s death, her voice breaking, she said: “Our family was heartbroken. My father died within the year, just before Christmas, when the anniversary was coming up.”
The initial inquest into the killings had been a short affair, taking place in 1977 and resulting in an “open verdict”.
Mrs Quinn said they had been pressing for a fresh one for the last 18 years.
In the meantime, their mother had died in 2004.
Then about two years ago Bobby’s widow had developed cancer, and also died.
She also said that the whole family had been brought up in church, and had taken the Ten Commandments to heart.
Of the 10, she picked out two in particular for mention.
The first was number five: to honour your father and mother. The second was number six: “Thou shalt not kill”.
“And that’s what none of us would ever do,” said an emotional Mrs Quinn.
Asked if she had a message for the killers, she said: “The first thing I would like to tell them is that there’s none of us would have done this on them.
“Not one of us would have lifted a gun on anybody.
“There’s nobody who’d have brainwashed us into doing any different.”
She added: “As far as those ones that did it, I’d rather they come clean and admit it to us, in their own way, in their own time.”
She expressed confidence that those behind the killings “will not be doing jail”.
She had heard that, prior to the massacre, there was talk of the workers changing their route to work, but that a decision was taken to continue as usual. She had heard this from Bobby’s wife – now deceased.
She also alluded to photographs seen by her brother, who used to work at security bases and was “very great” with the Army.
She suggested the images concerned people who had been sought by the security forces, or had been under their surveillance.
However, she could offer little more on this point. Her brother, too, is now dead.
“If he’d been here today, he could’ve told us more,” she said.
The date of the massacre was January 5, 1976.
The new inquest into it began on Monday, and could last up to six weeks.
Alan Black, the only surviving eyewitness to the crime (beside the perpetrators themselves), had given evidence on the opening day.