A MEMORIAL is to be erected to the victims of a sectarian atrocity – 36 years after it took place.
Orange lodges in the Armagh area have helped to raise thousands of pounds to build a commemorative wall marking the spot where the Kingsmill massacre took place.
Those behind the plans said it is an attempt to counter the re-writing of the area’s history by republicans, who wish to make sure the theme of IRA “war heroes” dominates south Armagh’s cultural landscape.
Willie Frazer, from the largely anti-republican victims group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR), said they had now got planning permission for the memorial, and even intend to put parking spaces at it for visitors to stop and pay their respects.
“It’s going to be a fair size,” he said.
“It will tell the story of what took place in south Armagh because there’s an attempt to hide the history.
“I want to make sure when people come along the road, stop there and read it, they’ll know exactly what happened.”
Previously, the only memorial at the site was a metal cross his organisation had installed.
Foundations for the new memorial, off the Kingsmill Road near to Whitecross, were scheduled to be laid last week, but due to bad weather, it was postponed until next week.
Mr Frazer said: “I’ve been trying to get money to do this for a number of months.
“People are getting on now; some of the widows are in their 90s.
“We’d like to see it up before some of them pass on.”
Pastor Barrie Halliday, an associate of FAIR from the Five Mile Hill Pentecostal Church, is another of those behind the project.
He said the memorial will take the form of a wall, roughly 20 feet long by five feet high and with granite plinths built in, situated on a hilltop close to where the fatal shots were fired.
Around £8,000 had been raised from Orange lodges in the area to go towards it, he added.
The 44-year-old said: “The way the republicans are rewriting history, people are just concerned that Kingsmill will just be written off.
“We need something to tell the next generation what happened here in January 1976.”
On January 5 that year, 10 Protestant workmen were murdered by members of the Provisional IRA, using a cover name.
They forced the workmen’s minibus to stop as they returned from a day’s work, before selecting a Catholic man among the group to be spared.
The Protestants tried to protect the Catholic man, fearing the gunmen had come for him.
Instead, the assailants turned their weapons on them, and opened fire with more than 100 bullets.
One of those shot survived – even after 18 gunshot wounds.
The victims ranged from 18 to 63 years of age.
The mass killing followed half-a-dozen other murders the previous day, carried out by the UVF.
Pastor Halliday said there are plenty of memorials to the IRA dotted around the countryside, and added that pro-republican events had also taken place at Mullaghbawn’s Ti Chulainn Cultural Activity Centre, just a few miles south of the Kingsmill massacre area.
“We would say: what about Kingsmill?”, he added.
“We are being forced to do this today because history is being re-written, and Kingsmill doesn’t fit into the republican myth about their war heroes.”
As reported earlier this year, the pastor had received a death threat from those opposed to a remembrance march he was planning over the killings.