TANYA Smyth was 11 years old when her 20-year-old brother John was murdered at Kingsmills.
He was one of 10 Protestant workmen murdered by the IRA on their way home from work in south Armagh in 1976.
“I was upstairs doing my homework when I heard all the commotion downstairs,” she said.
Her mother and father, Tommy and Esther, went quickly from the house and Tanya was left with her sister Karen, 18, and Mandy, 16.
“My brother was going to be a missionary. He had been accepted for training by a Bible college in Glasgow.”
They lived a few miles outside Bessbrook. It was a very mixed area.
“We grew up playing with Roman Catholic children. We went and stayed at a neighbours’ house for a few hours that night. I think it was Karen who came and told me what had happened. I don’t know if I was told at that time that it was a shooting.
“I remember walking into church and seeing all the coffins of those who died.
“There was no room for us to sit down and Ian Paisley and some of his party got up and gave us their seats.”
The police never called at her home to discuss the murder, she said.
“All those years we thought they were investigating it and that someday someone would be caught. But when the Historical Enquiries Team report came out last summer it said that work on the case had really stopped in a matter of weeks.”
However, she is glad to have seen the report.
“We never had those details before,” she said.
At no time did the murder affect how she related to her Catholic neighbours, she said.
Her mother and father were “absolutely devastated”.
“Mummy passed away two years ago and right up until she died she would have mentioned John in just about every conversation.”
Her father never discussed the murder. Tanya says she has suspicions as to who was involved.
“One man used to come in every day and buy a paper from my mother in the newsagents in Bessbrook. But from the day of the murder she never saw him again.”
Where is he now?
“Ask the Taoiseach. He is still living in the Republic of Ireland.
“I don’t hate him and have no bitterness but I would like to know why he did it.
“That probably sounds quite silly and he would probably laugh in my face for asking.
“I just don’t understand how you can do that to another human being.”
She notes her brother was shot in the back and then in the head.
“The fact that those who did it are still living in the Republic...” She shakes her head. “I think there is evidence to get them for other things. But all the police files have disappeared.
“Someone is being protected,” she added. “For years it made me very suspicious. It used to make me wary of where I went. But a lot of my friends are Roman Catholic and my daughter’s best friend is Roman Catholic.”
Tanya was in the top class in Newry High School and passed her 11-plus. But things changed after the massacre.
“I would have loved to be a nurse but from that time on I lost all concentration and all confidence.”
Her husband says she still talks regularly about being a nurse. Instead, she became a home-maker and now works as a childminder.
“I would like to get to the bottom of this. I would like to see those responsible named, although I don’t expect them to go to jail.”
The subject of forgiveness comes up.
“If you don’t know who did it how can you forgive them?” she asks.
“I don’t know if I could do it face to face. At the end of the day it is not for me to do. Only God can forgive them.”