O’Dowd remarks; now IRA must take final step, says victim

Colin Worton called on the IRA to take the final step
Colin Worton called on the IRA to take the final step

A Kingsmills massacre victim has welcomed condemnation of the atrocity by Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd - but says republicans must now take the final step and admit it was carried out by the IRA.

Ten Protestant workmen were gunned down by the IRA at Kingsmills in south Armagh on 5 January 1976.

The IRA never claimed the attack and Sinn Fein has never accepted that the IRA was responsible.

However the Historical Enquiries Team and PSNI have both independently blamed the IRA.

Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff caused outrage when he published a spoof video of himself with a loaf of Kingsmills bread on his head on the anniversary of the massacre last week.

Speaking on the BBC’s The View last night, former Sinn Fein Stormont Minister John O’Dowd condemned the 1976 massacre.

“It is shameful what happened on the roadside in south Armagh that night, absolutely shameful and as a republican I am ashamed of it,” he told the BBC.

“Those who carried it out did not advance the cause of Irish unity in any way.”

He added: “I am not surprised the Kingsmills families are so annoyed and will not accept what Sinn Fein has said [that the video was not intended to offend them] because republicans have hurt them and harmed them.”

He went on: “The families of Kingsmills have a right to access justice.”

Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth was murdered at Kingsmills told the News Letter he gave the remarks a cautious welcome.

“Our family cautiously welcomes John O’Dowd’s condemnation of the murders but republicans now need to take the final step,” he said.

“We would ask the IRA to issue a statement accepting they ordered the murders, they were not carried out by a rogue unit and apologise to the victims and their families for the suffering and harm caused.”

When pressed by the BBC, Mr O’Dowd would not state that it was the IRA who carried out the murders, saying it was wrong “regardless of who carried it out, whether it was the IRA, or others, or people acting from the IRA”.

Many other families whose loved ones were killed in the Troubles also deserve justice, he said.

The UUP’s Danny Kennedy, whose has campaigned alongside the Kingsmills families, said earlier this week that Sinn Fein has never offered any support to the ongoing legacy inquest into the massacre.

The coroner has repeatedly called for people with information about the atrocity to come forward.

“South Armagh will always keep its dirty secrets” Mr Kennedy told the News Letter.

Sinn Fein suspended Mr McElduff for three months, although there was widespread expectation that he would be relieved of his position.

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