The only survivor of the Kingsmills massacre by republican terrorists has accused a Sinn Fein MP of depravity and dancing on graves over a social media video he posted on the anniversary of the attack.
Alan Black was among a group of Protestant textile workers taken off a bus, lined up and shot on a roadside in south Armagh in January 1976.
Ten men died. Mr Black suffered 18 gunshot wounds and survived.
His 19-year-old apprentice in the factory, Robert Chambers, fell across his legs as the shooting took place. The young man was calling for his mother as he was shot in the face.
Earlier this month, around the 42nd anniversary of the atrocity, Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff posted a clip of himself in a shop with a Kingsmill-branded loaf on his head asking where is the bread.
“I have great loyalty to the boys that died, my friends. And I’ve a great loyalty to the families of the dead,” Mr Black said.
“To get them disrespected the way that they were last week is very, very hard to take.
“For Barry McElduff to come out and totally disrespect ... to my mind it was depraved what he done. And it was dancing on their graves. He was seen to be celebrating their deaths.
“And if he had seen what I had seen that night, that has lived with me ever since, he wouldn’t have done it.”
Mr McElduff apologised for the video and insisted it was not a reference to the crime.
In an interview on Sunday with Miriam O’Callaghan on RTE Radio Mr Black rejected that: “I don’t accept that.
“He’s a very astute politician. He’s a very clever man. Everyone, with the inquest ongoing, the Kingsmills murders have been in the media quite a lot this past couple of years.
“He did know. He did know. He done it deliberately to cause hurt and he succeeded in spades in the hurt that he caused.”
Sinn Fein suspended Mr McElduff from all party activity for three months over the affair.
Unionists reacted angrily, both to the post and the extent of Sinn Fein’s punishment and, unusually, some Sinn Fein supporters spoke out to say that they did not believe Mr McElduff’s explanation.
At the height of the controversy Mr Black implored politicians on all sides to stop trying to “poke each other’s eye out” and instead help the victims.
In yesterday’s interview he said it would be the last time he would recount the massacre in public.
Mr Black recalled lying on the roadside after being shot and seeing a gunman’s boots and rifle tips.
He said he heard a call for the workers to be “finished off” and he tried to not flinch while he knew his colleagues were being executed, including his young apprentice who was in love with a young woman called Wendy in the factory.
Recalling the slaughter of his apprentice, Robert Chambers, he said: “He was calling for his mummy – ‘mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy’... Robert was still calling for his mummy; I saw the boots of the gunman and the tip of the rifle ... they blew his face away”
A bullet grazed Mr Black’s head. “I didn’t know you could smell death, but you can,” he said.
Mr Black said that at one point while he was in intensive care in hospital he did not want to live but that a nurse had brought him back from the brink by talking about his children.
Along with the physical and psychological trauma that has followed Mr Black in the 42 years since, he also recalled the impact of the massacre on the parents of Mr Chambers. “I have lived with that memory of Robert Chambers and it will live with me ‘til the day I die,” he said.
He said that on summer’s days he would see the young apprentice’s parents sitting with a flask and sandwiches by his graveside: “It was heartbreaking. They died of broken hearts because they died very shortly after Robert, within a couple of years.”
Mr Black said he was proud that his three children had grown up so well-balanced.
“How could I be bitter? It wasn’t Catholics that killed us it was the IRA. No, I couldn’t be bitter,” he said.