Contentious Kingsmill march postponed

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Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

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

The contentious Kingsmill march – which has led to death threats and mounting tension between members of the nationalist and unionist communities in the Whitecross area – has been postponed by the organisers. The families of the Kingsmill victims had initially intended to march through Whitecross this Saturday to commemorate the brutal murder of ten innocent Protestants in 1976 in an attack linked to the Provisional IRA. Newry Times has reported over the past two weeks how the march has led to heightened tensions within the Whitecross community. Sinn Fein and SDLP representatives have protested on behalf of nationalists in the Whitecross community and demanded that the march be rerouted. But just last week, the Parades Commission made a decision to allow the march to go ahead as planned, albeit with some severe restrictions in place. These included 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. The decision not to proceed with the planned event however, followed two bereavements and was not related to the restrictions imposed on the march. FAIR spokesman Willie Frazer said that the march will take place at a later date. He said, “At the request of the Kingsmills families the Walk for Justice and Equality to the site of the Kingsmill Massacre on Saturday 25th February has been postponed. Perhaps this postponement will give the nationalist community in Whitecross a chance to reconsider their stance and be more conciliatory in the future. Newry & Armagh Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy said there will be relief in Whitecross. Murphy said, “The people of the area did not want this march and there will be relief that it is cancelled. The Kingsmill families have been commemorating their loved ones for years now without any objections so there was no need for a march. Hopefully the organisers will reflect upon the tension they have created in the area with this application and desist from attempting to stir up emotions and divisions with a similar application in the future.” UUP Newry and Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy supported the postponement. He said, “I very much welcome the decision by the parade organisers and the victims of Kingsmills not to proceed with the march on Saturday. The decision was taken in the interests of community relations. I know that this decision was difficult and indeed painful for many however it is a huge gesture of goodwill and I wish to commend the organisers and the Kingsmills families in taking this step.”
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