Northern Ireland

Kingsmills pastor Barry Halliday 'is threatened'

the bullet riddled minibus near Kingsmills in South Armagh in which 10 Protestant workmen were massacred
Image caption The bullet-riddled minibus in which 10 Protestant workmen were massacred

One of the organisers of a march commemorating 10 Protestant workmen murdered by the IRA at Kingsmills has said he has been threatened.

Pastor Barry Halliday has helped Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (Fair) plan a parade along the route taken by the men shot dead in 1976.

The Parades Commission has placed restrictions on the march which will go through the village of Whitecross.

Pastor Halliday said the threat was very specific.

"The local Church of Ireland rector got a phone call at 11 o'clock and there was a very specific message that I and my church would be targeted if a parade went through Whitecross," he said.

"They specifically mentioned the Fair organisation, so I take this as outright intimidation of anybody who's standing up for victims in south Armagh."

Ten textile workers were murdered in the IRA atrocity at Kingsmills.

The Parades Commission has limited the number of people taking part in the 25 February march.

It has also ruled that there should be no placards, flags or banners in the procession and that it begins and disperses promptly.

On Tuesday, SDLP and Sinn Fein representatives met the commission to voice opposition to the parade going through the village of Whitecross.

They said a parade through the mainly nationalist village would damage community relations.

"I have made representations on behalf of and in support of the residents affected by this blatantly inflammatory march and there is huge disappointment in the Whitecross area over the decision," said Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy.

"The people of the area want to be left in peace and rather than confronting the organisers, the Parades Commission has just created problems that could damage community relations in Whitecross and surrounding areas."

Bizarre

It would be the first time such a parade has been held.

After the commission's ruling, the parade will feature the one Protestant survivor of the attack, Alan Black, as well as two immediate relatives of each of those who were killed or injured in the attack.

It will follow the route the victims took in their minibus on the night they were murdered.

William Frazer of Fair said the conditions imposed by the Parades Commission were not acceptable.

Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy called the ruling "bizarre".

DUP MLA for Newry and Armagh William Irwin said none of the families wanted to cause offence.

"It is right that the relatives of those murdered in the Kingsmills massacre should be able to have a peaceful and dignified walk to highlight their campaign for justice," he said.

"They simply want to highlight that, after 35 years, no one has been brought to justice for the murder of their loved ones."

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