Northern Ireland

Kingsmills massacre: Service held to mark 40th anniversary of IRA murders

Kingsmill van
Image caption The 10 men were murdered after the IRA stopped their work mini-bus and shot them.

A memorial service has been held to mark the 40th anniversary of the murder of 10 Protestant workmen by the IRA in the Kingsmills massacre.

The victims - textile factory workers - were shot dead when an IRA gang ambushed their mini-bus in 1976 near the County Armagh village of Kingsmills.

After checking their religion, the gang ordered one Catholic colleague to leave.

Only one man survived the shootings.

Alan Black, a 32-year-old father of three at the time, was seriously wounded and spent months recovering in hospital.

Ambush

"It was brutal what was inflicted on us," he said.

"Ten completely innocent men taken out and brutally murdered.

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Media captionThe service was held to mark the 40th anniversary of the massacre

"This time of year, I go into countdown mode - I look at the calendar and at the clock and think to myself: 'The boys have only five days or five hours or five minutes to live,' right up to the time of the ambush.

"On a nice summer's day, it is like it happened to someone else in a different life, but when the winter sets in and the dark nights come round it feels like it just happened yesterday.

Adjourned

"But I want to see a bit of truth and justice.

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Image caption Relatives of the Kingsmills victims gathered for a memorial service to mark the 40th anniversary

"For the boys, but mostly for the families who are still searching for the truth."

All of the victims came from Bessbrook, County Armagh.

Robert Chambers was 19-years-old when he was killed. His brother, Cecil, said his desire for justice has never dimmed.

"We're just looking, 40 years on, for justice we should have had long ago.

"They killed three of my family, not one, because my mother and father never left his graveside. My mother would forget and put dinner out for him."

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Image caption Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy, who also comes from Bessbrook, spoke at the service

Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy, who also comes from Bessbrook, spoke of his memories of the massacre.

"I can see the uncontrollable grief of families whose loved ones had been so cruelly taken - sons, husbands, fathers. Decent, hard-working men."

A number of statements were read out on behalf of those now too elderly or infirm to attend Tuesday's service.

An inquest into the murders announced in 2013 has yet to begin, having been adjourned eight times.

The 10 men who killed were John Bryans, Robert Chambers, Reginald Chapman, Walter Chapman, Robert Freeburn, Joseph Lemmon, John McConville, James McWhirter, Robert Samuel Walker and Kenneth Worton.

The families of the victims gathered at the spot where they died for a religious service on Tuesday morning.

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