Irwin says Kingsmills apology ‘long overdue’
Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has said an apology from the Irish Government for successive and collective failings in the fight against what he described as ‘IRA terrorism’ throughout the troubles is “long overdue”.
He made the comments as the families of the ten men murdered in the Kingsmills massacre said they were left disappointed following a meeting with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Thursday on the issue of the pursuit of the IRA south of the border by Garda and the Irish justice system.
The Kingsmill Massacre took place on 5th January 1976 and although denied to this day by the Provisional IRA, many have attributed the carnage to them, despite an organization calling itself the ‘South Armagh Republican Action Force’ claiming responsibility.
Twelve men were on a minibus from work in Glenanne going to Bessbrook when stopped by republican gunmen, masquerading as a British army checkpoint.
The occupants of the mini bus got out and lined up against it, assuming they were being checked and searched by the British Army, UDR or RUC.
One of the gunmen ordered Richard Hughes – the only Catholic on the bus – to step forward and immediately the eleven remaining Protestants feared they were dealing with a loyalist paramilitary group intent on killing the only Catholic and thus they tried to stop him from disclosing his religion.
However the lead gunman told Hughes to leave the area immediately and “don’t look back”. The eleven remaining Protestants were shot, with a total of 136 live rounds being fired in less than a minute, with only one man (Alan Black) surviving, despite his 18 gunshot wounds.
Irwin says he will speak on a motion to be tabled by his Party in the Stormont on Monday calling directly on the Irish government to issue an apology for their lack of co-operation in pursuing ‘IRA terrorists’ who carried out attacks in Northern Ireland and sought to ‘evade justice’ by hiding out in the Republic of Ireland.
Speaking to Newry Times, Irwin stated, “This issue continues to be a source of concern for both my party and the families of victims of IRA terrorism, the perpetrators of which evaded justice by fleeing to the Republic of Ireland.”
“The meeting held by the families of those murdered in the Kingsmills massacre were left disappointed by the response of the Taoiseach and he fell short of apologising for the failings of successive governments to deal with IRA terrorists south of the border.”
Irwin continued, “Whilst Thursday’s meeting represents an important first step in this process, the issue of an actual apology is vital in terms of the acceptance that the Republic of Ireland fell short of what was expected of them in bringing justice to bear on those terrorists who so blatantly used the border to escape justice in Northern Ireland.
“It is a real indictment on the Irish Government that known terrorists were allowed to use the Republic of Ireland, in effect as a safe house, to escape justice and that is what hurts the innocent victims so much.”
He added, “My Party will be meeting with the Taoiseach in the coming days regarding terrorism along the border with a focus on the Fermanagh area also and through our motion on we intend to maintain pressure on the Irish government given the importance of this issue to the families.”
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