Death threat issued against Kingsmill march organiser

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Thursday, February 16th, 2012
News, Politics

The bullet riddled van that carried the ten innocent victims of Kingsmill

The pastor involved in organising a march in memory of the ten Kingsmill victims murdered by the IRA nearly four decades ago has received a death threat. Pastor Barrie Halliday of the Five Mile Hill Pentecostal Church in Bessbrook is helping plan the contentious march, which aims to retrace the last steps in the 3.5 mile journey taken by the ten innocent victims on that fateful night. Halliday was informed of the death threat by the Police and he said last night, “The message to me from the PSNI was that if we do proceed with the march through the village of Whitecross my church will be ‘burnt to the ground’ and I will be ‘shot dead’. It is pure intimidation.” Speaking about the restrictions imposed on the march, Halliday added, “Which brother and which sister of those murdered does the commission think should walk along the route in Whitecross? How should we choose? We will be reapplying for another march.”

Newry Times has reported over the past week how the march has led to tension within the Whitecross community. Sinn Fein and SDLP representatives have stood side by side with nationalists in the Whitecross community and demanded that the march be rerouted. But just last night, the Parades Commission made a decision to allow the march to go ahead as planned, albeit with some severe restrictions in place. These include only the sole survivor of the attack – Alan Black – and two relatives of each of the 10 men murdered being allowed to walk through Whitecross on February 25th. According to the victims however, this was not acceptable because they had requested a march with over 150 people holding enlarged photographs of their loved ones and accompanied by a replica minibus of the one ripped apart by IRA bullets.

May Quinn, whose brother Bobby Walker was one of the ten Kingsmill victims, refuted nationalist claims that the march was “a Willie Frazer ego trip”, referring to the director of victims’ group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR). “It is the victims that are having this march, not Willie Frazer. But only for him, we would not have a victims’ group. Barrie is our pastor and we are very annoyed by the threat against him. He would never do something like that to anyone else and neither would we. We just want justice for victims. We have always been far too quiet from the very start. If we had done something wrong we would be sitting in Stormont by now.”

Colin Worton, whose older brother Kenneth was murdered at Kingsmill, said he could not accept that only two members of his family would be allowed to walk the entire route. “I am not sure how you are going to say who can and cannot go from my family. We also wanted to carry big photographs of Kenneth but all placards and banners have been banned. None of these restrictions were ever placed on the Bloody Sunday families’ march. Where is the equality? There were some 20 murders by the IRA in this area and we intended that their relatives should take part in this walk. Why can they not go too?”

He added, “The Parades Commission asked us why it took 36 years for us to organise this walk. But my answer to that was ‘why not after 36 years?’ The Bloody Sunday families marched for 40 years and got an apology from the Prime Minister. What else can the Kingsmills families do now to get justice?”

Newry and Armagh UUP MLA Danny Kennedy said he was taking the threat against Pastor Halliday very seriously. Commenting on the threats he said, “I don’t think it can be discounted. The police will have to give Barrie the appropriate security advice.” Kennedy also reiterated his belief that SDLP and Sinn Fein’s contribution to the contentious march has been to “heighten tensions”. He continued, “So far they have failed to take account of the fact that the original proposal has been scaled down. There are no bands involved. This is not a parade.”


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