Kingsmills families no longer feel they get empathy: survivor

Alan Black, sole survivor of the Kingsmills Massacre
Alan Black, sole survivor of the Kingsmills Massacre

The sole survivor of the Kingsmills massacre says the victims no longer feel they are getting empathy.

Ten Protestant workmen were gunned down near Kingsmills in south Armagh in 1976 by the IRA.

Leaving early from the latest legacy inquest hearing on Wednesday, sole survivor Alan Black said: “This is what is known as a slow waltz.

“Deny, deny, deny, delay, delay, delay. They are talking about 10 dead fellas here.

“I think there is a collective decision to put it on the long finger. As families we felt that we were getting empathy at the very start of the inquest, but no longer.”

During the hearing, PSNI DCI Ian Harrison declined calls by lawyers for the families to say whether a newspaper report had misidentified the suspect who owned the palm print found on the alleged getaway minibus.

Mr Harrison responded it was police policy not to confirm or deny the identity of suspects.

He also declined a family lawyer’s call to clarify whether a statement by a self-confessed IRA man was an important piece of intelligence in the attempt to prosecute suspect S54 in 2017.

Both lawyers appealed to coroner Brian Sherrard to direct Mr Harrison to co-operate, however the coroner declined.

Karen Armstrong, whose brother John McConville was killed, told the News Letter after the hearing: “It is horrendous... they are just not co-operating. They have not answered any questions we have asked. They have definitely lost empathy in this court for families.”

Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth was killed, said he left early. He said: “We don’t seem to be fighting the terrorists, we seem to be fighting the establishment.”

Campaigner Willie Frazer said: “The families have become completely and utterly disengaged from the inquest process, they are prepared to walk away.”

A spokeswoman for the Lord Chief Justice said: “the handling of the inquest is a matter for the coroner, who is constrained by law as to how the matter is progressed.

“The inquest is ongoing and the coroner hopes to meet all the concerns of the families before it concludes,” she said.

“As the matter is ongoing it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke said: “We understand the terrible suffering the Kingsmill families are going through but as the inquest is ongoing, we hope they will understand we cannot comment further until proceedings are completed and the evidence of witnesses has concluded.”