A MAN whose brother was gunned down by the IRA in the Kingsmills massacre hopes the Irish Taoiseach will not place him in a hierarchy of victims when they meet in an historic encounter in Dublin today.
Some 40 relatives of the 10 Protestant workmen murdered in 1976 will meet the Taoiseach to discuss the south Armagh murders.
It is thought to be the first time that an Irish premier has agreed to meet IRA victims from Northern Ireland about alleged Irish state collusion in the murder of their loved ones.
Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth died in a hail of bullets at Kingsmills, said last night he was “apprehensive” about meeting Enda Kenny.
He added that, when it comes to victims of the Troubles, “one life is worth the same as another”.
“I don’t know what way it is going to go,” Mr Worton said.
“I would like to tell him that my brother was only 24 when he died and that my daughter just turned 24 last week.
“I don’t know what it must have been like for my parents to bury a son aged only 24.
“I could understand it if Kenneth had died in an accident. But what happened was that an IRA gang crept across the border and hid in a hedge waiting for them. Then they executed him and ran back across the border – and nobody said boo to them.
“But when the mad cow disease hit south Armagh the Irish government sealed the border immediately. So they must have accepted the Kingsmills murders and chose to do nothing about them.”
Mr Worton said he empathised with the Pat Finucane family as they press for a public inquiry into the murder of the Catholic lawyer. Mr Finucane, who often acted for IRA suspects, was murdered by loyalists in 1989. The British Government has accepted its security forces colluded with loyalists in the murder.
“My heart goes out to them but one life is worth the same as another,” Mr Worton said.
“It took us over a year-and-a-half of pressure to get the Taoiseach to finally meet us. But if I am to believe what I read he met the Finucane family in a matter of days.
“The Finucanes are concerned about collusion – and rightly so. But Mr Kenny has been talking to everyone who will listen about their case and yet look at how much work it has taken for us to get a meeting with him. It should not matter what creed or colour you are when it comes to these things.”
Stormont minister Danny Kennedy, of the UUP, who knew some of the Kingsmills victims personally, has said today’s meeting will be “historic”.
He has been pressing for the meeting for 16 months.
“We think Mr Kenny has to acknowledge the failures of the Irish state in these murders in the same way that David Cameron did for Bloody Sunday,” the UUP MLA has said previously.
“The Smithwick Inquiry [into alleged IRA/garda collusion in the murders of two senior RUC officers in 1989] has shown that the Irish administration did not wish to create an extradition process to send IRA members back to Northern Ireland for trial.
“And ballistics records show that the same weapons used at Kingsmills were used in over 100 other murders. The Irish state did not do enough to stop this.”
UUP peer Lord Empey said: “Many people will be watching to see if it will simply be a cosmetic exercise or whether he will give the Kingsmills families the same support and backing he has given the Finucane family.”
Mr Kennedy and victims campaigner Willie Frazer will accompany the Kingsmills relatives when they meet the Taoiseach at 2pm in Dublin today.
On their way down to Dublin the families will stop at the scene of the 1976 slaughter to lay wreaths for their loved ones.
Some of the Kingsmills families will travel directly back from the Dublin meeting to take part in a protest at the Maze site outside Lisburn. They are opposed to republicans creating what they see as “a shrine” to IRA hunger strikers as part of a government-backed peace and reconciliation project.
Last summer, the PSNI HET report said that the murder of the 10 Protestant workmen at Kingsmills was a “purely sectarian” premeditated attack carried out by the Provisional IRA and planned far in advance of UVF murders in the same locale only days before. Nobody has ever been charged with the murders.
l The men murdered at Kingsmills were Robert Walker, 46; Joseph Lemmon, 49; brothers Reginald Chapman, 29, and 35-year-old Walter; Kenneth Worton, 24; James McWhirter, 63; Robert Chambers, 18; John McConville, 20; John Bryans, 50, and Robert Freeburn, 56. Alan Black, 32, was hit 18 times but survived.
See Morning View, page 18