35 years after Kingsmills HET report due next week

Today is the 35th anniversary of the Kingsmills massacre. There was due to be a remembrance service this morning at the site of the murders. The News Letter is reporting that the HET is due to release its report into the murders next week. It is in the context of events such as Kingsmills that one should view the claims of the supposed Republican “intellectual” Sheehan that the conflict here was “quite civilised.”

From the News Letter

Colin Worton was just 15 when his older brother Kenneth was killed at Kingsmills at the age of 24.

“I think it gets worse for us as time goes on, especially when perpetrators are so unrepentant,” he said.

“We could have got over it far quicker if people were brought to justice for what happened – I don’t believe anyone has ever even apologised for what happened either.

“People say it was the worst of the worst atrocities, you wouldn’t even do to an animal what was done to those men, yet it was never properly investigated.”

Mr Worton said a report by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) into the atrocity was supposed to have come out before Christmas but it was delayed because of the southern authorities.

“My mother got a letter from the HET before Christmas which said the report had been delayed because they were waiting for some clarity from the southern authorities, but it was left very vague what they were still waiting for clarity about.

“I think they had been trying to speak to some people who are living in the south now or something like that.

“The HET have told us some things we didn’t know, like there was a palm print found on the van, we hadn’t heard that before. But then there was no investigation into the murders at the time.

“But things like that are no good unless they use them, we don’t really know what to expect from the report.

“The ultimate would be to get a prosecution – they probably wouldn’t serve any time now anyway but at least they would be named and shamed and people would know what they had done.”

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  • andnowwhat

    Hi Turgon.

    It was all a puppet game. The whole thing.

    Whether unionist or nationalist I always like to paraphrase a line from Fight Club…..Have you ever considered that you goverment doesn’t like you? In all probability, it hates you.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    One of the finest moments of the recent republican campaign (in this case credited to the south Armagh republican action force). Around 12 republican gunmen shot 10 unarmed protestant textile workers lined up against a bus. I daresay no-one in SF would consider it a crime.

    It’s important that purely sectarian murders such as this are highlighted regularly, lest the crass Sheehan-style revisionism actually starts to be believed.

    There were three sides in the recent conflict — only one is openly proud of their murderous activity.

  • Mark

    All the sectarian killings in that area at that time were shocking .

  • PaddyReilly

    Yes the Kingsmill massacre of 10 innocent Protestant civilians took place on 5th January 1976, in revenge for the massacre of 6 innocent Catholic civilians at Whitecross and Ballydougan the previous day. A bigger and better massacre of Catholics for the day after was planned, but cancelled because of the risk that there would be a day after, etc.

    For some unfathomable reason you failed to commemorate yesterday’s massacre. This economy of compassion leaves you in the erroneous position of thinking that you speak for the unique victims, the most oppressed people ever, the universal recipients of wrong and violence.

    The perpetrators of Kingsmill, though they gave themselves some hifalutin title about Action Force, were very definitely members of INLA. The good news is that they are almost certainly dead, those who lived by the sword decidedly perishing by the sword or, as the Eastern religions would have it, having succumbed to the inevitable power of their bad karma. So all this lugubrious nonsense about ‘perpetrators are so unrepentant’ can be forgotten.

  • joeCanuck

    People say it was the worst of the worst atrocities..

    How can a person judge that? There were so many, ranging from La Mon to Enniskillen to Bloody Sunday. Still makes me shudder when I remember them.

  • Rory Carr

    I look forward to Turgon’s response to Paddy Reilly’s comments above especially since it touches upon reasons why at times on the Republican side they felt obliged to engage in the naked sectarianism that was the sole feature of Loyalist murderousness in order to demonstrate that there would be a price to be paid if the wholesale slaughter of Catholic civilians was to continue.

    The Kingsmill slaughter was a terrible action to contemplate, surely even more horrific to execute and a monumental risk to run that the slaughter of Catholics might see-saw upwards in response rather than give cause to those Loyalists who had carried out the murders at Whitecross and Ballydougan to desist and think again.

    As Paddy Reilly has pointed out, that risk was rewarded in the sense that no subsequent Catholic slaughter was undertaken. But at what terrible cost – not alone to those murdered at Kingsmill and their grieving relatives – but also to the psyche of those who carried out the slaughter, whom it is believed are also now deceased. May they all rest in peace..

  • andnowwhat

    Is the game NI ping pong played with one green and one orange bat and a ball painted with “victim” on it or maybe it is Trumps?

    This place was missmanaged disgracefully from east of this isle. A cursory glance at British colonial rule around the world sustantiates the asserion I make that they rarely exercised understanding or empathy with/for those they “occupied” and so it is with the situation here before and after partition.

    Be you a unionist or nationalist victim, you were a faceless victim to them. That is the colonial psyce be they Spanish, British or (in modern terms) american.

    Lookning to the British or whomever to sort us out is stupid. This is OUR problem and playing silly scoring games whenwe know there are so many brickbats on all sides is a waste of energy and time.

    This place is a complete mess. It has no direction because all sides deny obvious truths. This place lives on a diet of lies, paranoia and convenient ignorance.

    Time to Gillian Mc Keith the place and detox the shit out of ourselves

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Rory, Paddy,

    The point you make regarding the previous days killings is fair one but it is a separate point and Turgon is quite justifiied in looking at and highlighting an inidiviual incident (which was horrendous) and asking us to comapre the recent remarks by a Republican with what actually went on.

    After all we would not have been too pleased if Turgon jumped up in the middle of the Saville enquiry and demanded that he should be investigating some IRA activity and when Unionist politiicans tried to damn Saville for focussing only on the events of the day(not events against the security forces leading up to the day), I’m sure you like me just passed it off as the usual Unionist dreadful whataboutery?

    There are many difficult questions for the Provos (and SF) to answer and this is one of them.

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk

    Gerry Lvs Castro

    “There were three sides in the recent conflict — only one is openly proud of their murderous activity”

    Is that right?

    I despise SF and the IRA.

    However, there are plenty of “loyalists” who are proud of their “war” – they talk of killing “legitimate targets” i.e any easy target taig they could get their hands on.

    There are plenty of Orange Order lodges with banners that commemorate “Loyalist” terrorists and even more bands that do the same.

    They make most decent people puke with their observance of Remembrance Sunday and “furling their flags and standing down” as if they were real soldiers defending democracy as opposed to cowardly, sectarian, drug dealing criminal murderers.

    These people are sickening – the most laughable thing is that they claim to be defending the Union and their Britishness. Having lived in London for many years, the vast majority of British people are extremely decent – they don’t understand NI, don’t give a shit about it and would have nothing but contempt for so-called “loyalists” with their vitriolic hatred of any Catholic.

    Like I said, I have no time for the IRA/INLA etc.

    However, you seem to be implying that Republicans glory in their terrorism while the laudable ‘loyalists” don’t glory in it but saw it as their duty and they truly regret the murder of innocent Catholics.

    Total and absolute bollocks!

  • gendjinn

    The INLA carried out the Kingsmills murders. Sinn Fein and the Provisional IRA are not the INLA.

    Sheehan’s comments were about the PIRA, not the OIRA, IPLO, INLA or any other group.

    It is quite difficult to give any serious credit to the analysis put forward by people who don’t even know these basic facts.

    * The majority of people killed by the British Army were catholic civilians.
    * The majority of people killed by the RUC were catholic civilians.
    * The majority of people killed by the UDR were catholic civilians.
    * Over 90% of the people killed by unionist terrorists were catholic civilians.
    * Less than 30% of people killed by the PIRA were civilian and unlike the British security forces and their terrorist puppets there was no sectarian bias.

  • Dewi

    First I’ve heard of INLA involvement. A strange thereom for that area – and were not arms found linked to this and claimed IRA killings?

  • Dewi
  • tacapall

    These killings were wrong any civilised person would agree with that and the victims deserved a proper investigation no different than the victims of McGurks bar or the loughinisland victims whose report has been posponed indefinitely. The childish reference by Turgon on Pat Sheehan intelligence is laughable when you consider Unionist attempts at victim ownership and the rantings of Gregory Campbell over the Bloody Sunday victims.

  • Rory Carr

    My understanding has always been that the Kingsmill massacre was carried out by the INLA. I recall being horrified at the news of the atrocity and not wishing to contemplate that things had reached such a low that the IRA would be prodded into such gross sectarian slaughter whatever the provocation.

    It was almost with a sense of relief, tinged with anger, when I first heard of the INLA involvement and remember arguing with an Irp supporter in London (an English ex-paratrooper incidentally – go figure!) who was defending the action on the basis of the the previous days murders of Catholic civilians.

    Bur Gendjinn’s points are well taken. There has been a concerted effort (not least on this site) to tarnish the whole Provisional campaign as though it were one of the sectarian killing of innocent Protestants simply because they were Protestants when the reality is that the targetting of innocent civilians because of their religious affiliation alone was almost solely confined to those who opposed the Republicans – the Loyalist gangs, the British Army, the RUC and the the UDR.

    Indeed the native Irish Catholic population have ever been held to account by both the British and their planter allies for any attempt at resistance to their misrule by any native Irish organisation and it is this very mindset that allowed the Loyalist gangs to believe they had carte blanche when it came to killing Catholics and is the very inspiration behind such bloodthirsty sloganising as ‘Any Taig will do’.

  • Harry Flashman

    An absolutely appalling incident, I remember it well; a dark January evening and after my tea I was trying out the cheap little plastic transistor radio I had got for Christmas when I first heard the news. It was stunning in its depravity and my whole family were in shocked disbelief when I rushed to tell them but it is also right to remember the massacre of the evening before.

    I remember before my tea watching Scene Around Six as they reported on that previous killing, I recall the story of the survivor who hid under the bed as his brothers were murdered, it was a mark of the savagery of the time that we never thought that eight year old boys should not be listening to such horrors on the TV.

    I think Rory’s usually reliable memory is failing him this time, it was not the INLA, it was the Provisional IRA who carried out the attack. The Armalites used were used on several later IRA operations including the killing of the two senior RUC men in 1989 as they returned from Dundalk. Furthermore could he not spare a little credit for the ending of the sectarian slaughter by Harold Wilson’s immediate decision to despatch the SAS to South Armagh?

  • Rory Carr

    Harry could be right in his detail of the Armalites’ later use implicating at least some Provisional volunteers among the murder gang. I do vaguely recall hearing some stories that, although it was an INLA operation, some Provisional members raging at the previous day’s atrocities had thrown their lot in with the INLA squad on this occasion. But that is all I have – gossip, innuendo, Chinese whispers. Maybe the HET will have been able to shed some light on it all.

    I don’t doubt Harold Wilson’s good intentions – he was a well intentioned man I do believe – but I must say that part of me baulks at ever giving credit for the deployment of the SAS in almost any arena much less a civil conflict.

  • Neil

    As mentioned looking at this in isolation doesn’t work. Why did Kingsmill happen? The UVF had killed 17 Catholic civilians in South Armagh since the previous August, the IRA had killed 10. And of course as has been long known the IRA were running the risk of death or arrest at that time, while the Glennane Gang were able to carry out their business without that risk, backed and protected as they were by the PSNI and British intelligence.

    The previous night the UVF had killed 11 Catholic civilians when they attacked two families furthering that total by 6. So really when looking at this devoid of the obvious emotion that such a disgusting act will inspire, the UVF had killed more Catholic civilians at that point in time, and they then killed a further 6 that night. It would probably have suited Loyalists (who had planned to attack a Catholic primary school, and subsequently did not due to Kingsmill) for Republicans in Armagh to do nothing and just continue being murdered while the ‘forces of law and order’ participated in the murders and ensured the safety of the murderers.

    Then moving on to the snipe at Sheehan’s comment regarding the overall civility of the conflict, it’s the sort of vague comment that’s open to all kinds of tortured interpretation; much like the comment of Basil McCrea regarding the comparison between the strengths of the IRA and dissidents. In a way McCrea was right, act for act the dissidents could probably on a good day, with the right wind, just about pull off any one given act, but obviously they have not the numbers, support or armaments to be ‘equal’ to the IRA.

    Sheehan’s statement that the various actors in NI did not go hell for leather into full on civil war involving the deaths of tens if not hundreds of thousands of civilians is ‘civilised’ can be judged to be correct, or depending on your view it could be seen as out of the ball park perverse.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but some commentors, like Turgon, rarely post a comment along the lines of ‘yeah ok, I hate the IRA and by extension SF to the core of my being, but on this occasion credit where it’s due they did good’. Fair enough, but some people are determined to criticise, much like with Basil or Tom Elliot, so let them.

    Finally I’ll just add that I think Kingsmill is a heartbreaking event to think of, I can’t defend that act, but feel that it’s necessary to point out the fact that while 10 people were brutally murdered as one person said at the time in a way that you wouldn’t do it to an animal, and all 10 were killed at once, the 17 dead Catholics that led up to the event also had families who suffered, and that grief and pain led to this brutal retaliation.

  • Carrickmoreman

    I’ve heard rumors of INLA involvement as well. However, wasn’t there a report this week stating something like the involvement of a “prominent County Louth republican linked to Omagh”?

    Also, there are cases of some PIRA joining INLA and likewise.

  • Scáth Shéamais

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard Kingsmill pinned on the INLA before (perhaps people are mixing it up with Darkley). Tom Harnden’s Bandit Country as I recall says that the Kingsmill killings were carried out by an IRA unit in the area acting without orders, which is why they went under another name.

  • The perpetrators of Kingsmill achieved what they set out to do in that it put an end to the tit-for-tat sectarian killings which in happening in the area as Neill has outlined above. Frank Aiken as I remember used the same tactic in the same area for the same purpose in 1922 and it also worked then. Kingsmills was obviously a horrendous incident but if it had not happened would we have seen a continuation of the previous attrition rate with maybe 40 or 50 innocents killed in low impact incidents over a period of months? Probably.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    It was a Provo operation in all but name, nothing to do with the INLA (Darkley was carried out by renegade INLA). There were a few reasons for the nom de guerre – there was obviously a wish to keep a distance from sectarian murder but also the PIRA were still on an official ceasefire, as they had been for most of 1975.

    Contrary to what a previous commentator has said some of the perpetratrators are still alive as indeed are some of the Glenanne gang.

  • Brian

    Who started purely sectarian killing in this most recent conflict? Whose campaign consisted almost solely of random sectarian killing?

    At this time when killings were ramping up ome sort of response was needed, unfortunately. I hardly approve of the INLA or PIRA or IPLO or whomever but if they hadn’t done this there is no doubt the killings of innocent ‘taigs’ in that area would have continued unabated.

    Mostly, though, I am just saddened to remember that such a time and environment existed.

  • Rory Carr

    Further to Harry Flashman’s question asking me if I could “not spare a little credit for the ending of the sectarian slaughter by Harold Wilson’s immediate decision to despatch the SAS to South Armagh” and in light of contributions from Neill and Ulick above, may I just point out that Wilson’s concerns to take action against sectarian murder in South Armagh were triggered only after Kingsmills – that he did not seem sufficiently concerned at the ongoing slaughter of Catholic civilians (in which British state forces were complicit) in the area prior to that action must surely have helped provide motive for launching the Kingsmills operation as a desperate retaliatory strike to cause the Loyalist gangs to pause to think of the potential consequences of their murderous activity.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Monk… ‘However, you seem to be implying that Republicans glory in their terrorism while the laudable ‘loyalists” don’t glory in it but saw it as their duty and they truly regret the murder of innocent Catholics.’

    Monk it’s painfully obvious that the RM are engaged in a campaign to somehow set themselves above the other ‘combatants’ in what was an entirely vile, pointless and disgusting conflict.

    We have the likes of Sheehan, Adams and McLaughlin informing us that such events as shooting women in the head, blowing up children and robbing banks weren’t a crime. We have a leadership who regarded being a legitimate businessman, joining the local police force, or even being a cleaner in a police station as grounds for execution. We have a movement intent on portraying the provos as ‘selfless heroes’ when they were merely engaging in premeditated mass murder.

    By contrast, the representatives of loyalist terror groups recieve derisory electoral mandates and are rightly regarded by the overwhelming majority as a bunch of sectarian killers. In their favour, they very rarely seek to portray their murder campaigns as justified or laudable, which is just as well as they weren’t.

    The RM need to get real — what they engaged in from 69 to 94 was a conflict about which all sides should be thoroughly ashamed. The provos themselves ended their murder campaign with their demand of a UI as far away as ever and settled for something that was on the table in 74. They unlilaterally decommisioned, signed up to long-term partition and accepted the PSNI. In other words their campaign was a complete failure, unless you consider serving in a glorified UK parish council some sort of victory.

    There have been no winners in the recent conflict, yet the RM seeks to portray barbarism as heroism. How about all sides admitting that their murder campaigns were wrong, that not one single death was justified and that we need to move on with a genuine shared future? Or is that asking too much?

  • granni trixie

    I think it is only right that it is brought home to the wider public that murderous events, which left a negative legacy on families,took place – otherwise this reality is left behind with revisionism. It also illustrates why Sheehan’s remarks are so unacceptable to many.

  • Reader

    OK – now we’ve seen Slugger Republicans at last publicly coming round to the notion that there may be a grisly purpose to tit-for-tat sectarian killings. That will make those republicans better company for the loyalists who occasionally turn up here with the same message.

  • Rory Carr

    You’ve got it wrong, Reader. No one was in any doubt that there was “a grisly purpose” to this particular massacre. That purpose was to deter Loyalist gangs, with UDR collusion, from continuing in its campaign of murdering Catholic civilians with impunity. As their abandonment of a planned attack on a Catholic school on the following day testifies, they seem to have got the message.

    As to it serving to illustrate the error of Pat Sheehan’s remarks – one could argue rather that the very isolation of this atrocity can be shown to be a measure of the restraint that held back the north from falling into the abyss of total barbarism that so categorised other 20th century conflicts and illustrates, contra Granni Trixie, why Pat Sheehan’s remarks will find an acceptable resonance with those who can stand outside of emotional involvement or opportunistic political point-scoring and view the total conflict objectively.

  • Reader

    Rory Carr: You’ve got it wrong, Reader. No one was in any doubt that there was “a grisly purpose” to this particular massacre.
    Just as for any sectarian massacre. To paraphrase that purpose – a sectarian massacre applies pressure to the terrorist groups drawn from the community of the victims – welcome to the world of King Rat.
    But I don’t share your confidence in the success of the tactic. It was another 20 years before any of the groups moved into a serious ceasefire, and none of them acknowledged killings by themmuns as a factor in their decision to go on ceasefire.

  • andnowwhat

    Perspective…..almost half as many people were killeds in a fortnight in Gaza, just 2 years ago, as were killed in 30 years of conflict here.

    May I also add that we are part of the UK which is involved in an illegal war which has cost thousands of lives and who are, I might add, involved in another very dubious war which has cost even more lives.

    Just to add, the British public voted the war monger, who started these wars, back in after it was well known by anyone who gave a minutes thought to the issue(s), what was going on.

    The attitude of some on here reminds me of Donaldson’s attitude to nationalist victims when he is asked.

  • joeCanuck

    I was still living there at the time and there were well circulated rumours that both sides met, perhaps via mediaries, and agreed that they were both equally capable of playing the tit for tat atrocity game and, therefore, that it was a waste of time and would stop.

  • pinni


    An interesting omission from your ‘list’

    * the IRA killed more females, more children, more Catholics and more old age pensioners than any other group since 1969.

    Indeed, more Catholics died than Protestants during the Troubles. Another ‘proof’, if proof were needed, that the 30-year IRA campaign of terror was a colossal blunder by the Republican movement.

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk

    Gerry Lvs Castro

    I agree with you in that all murders were totally wrong and should not be portrayed as anything other.

    However, you are indulging in that favourite “loyalist” pastime of trying to paint the Catholic community as supporting terrorism or at least seeing some of it as justified while Unionists were totally against violence and, as for rarely portraying their campaign as justified – utter crap!

    I well remember the funerals of Bingham, Merchant, Murphy and Wright.

    The Shankill was lined from top to bottom with people paying their “respects” to that butcher Murphy.

    I well remember when a UDR or RUC person was killed at home – the Unionist politicians queuing up to claim that they must have been “fingered” by Catholic colleagues.

    Oddly enough, a very good friend of mine was murdered by “loyalists” on a building site – he was the only Catholic and was clearly identified by his killers – strangely there were no calls from Unionist politicians that he had been identified by collegues – am identical theme in many murders of innocent Catholics at that time.

    While I have never voted for SF myself, it is fact that they only started to achieve major electoral success against the SDLP once the IRA had a ceasefire.

    What about the Unionist politicians in Belfast City Hall – refusing to deal with Alex Maskey but happy to vote for “loyalist” terrorist linked politicians. The word hypocrisy springs to mind.

    Again I raise the OO with their “religious and civil freedom for all” – yeah right. What action exactly have they taken against Lodges with banners, bands that commemorate “loyalist” terrorists – I’ll tell you – None!

    There’s always a great turnout for the Brian Robinsom memorial parade (you know – that loyalist hero whose big achievement was to shoot dead an innocent Catholic pensioner walking home from a betting shop).

    Willie Frazer is another example – his organization aren’t interested in Catholic victims but are happy to commemorate secatrian “loyalist” murderer Robert McConnell.

    You should watch (if you haven’t seen it) Peter Taylor’s excellent program – Loyalists. Many “Loyalist” terrorists in it admit to murdering innocent Catholics purely based on their religion and act as if they were soldiers in a war with some sort of code of honour.

    I agree with you that we should accept all murders as wrong and move on. I totally disagree with Sheehans comments.

    However, your attempt to portray the Unionist/Protestant community as somehow having the moral high ground is laughable.

    They were happy to live in and support a state where for over 50 years Catholics were blatently denied, jobs housing even votes!

    They voted for Unionist politicians in their 10s of thousands when their links with “loyalist” terrorists were known to all – a fact confirmed by many “loyalist” terrorists.

    I don’t agree with anyone who supports terrorism. However, there are plenty of people in the Unionist community who impilicitly supported “loyalist” violence and still believe that they have some justification for it.

    You’re right – there were no winners, only losers. There is no justification for any violence.

    However, your attempt to portray Unionists as somehow morally superior to Nationalists is transparent and completely unjustifiable.

  • Frame

    Ulick says “The perpetrators of Kingsmill achieved what they set out to do in that it put an end to the tit-for-tat sectarian killings which in happening.”

    This sadly is deeply offensive. Who is to judge that a sectarian massacre – there was no pretence to suggest those killed were anything other than Protestants – is an appropriate deterrent?

    And why was the killing of the five Catholics in the previous days not sufficient deterrent, by the same logic, to stop the IRA?

  • pippakin

    The suggestion appears to be that loyalists were ‘wrong’ to murder people because they were catholic. The IRA however were ‘right’ to not give a monkeys who they murdered and so were justified in murdering innocent protestants in order to warn loyalists to be indiscriminate when murdering people.

    Yeah, anyone can see how that makes sense.

  • granni trixie

    It would be an odd sort of person who lived in WB during the troubles and did not feel emotionally involved. Rory, its clear that you did not really suffer or be near enough to suffering brought about by “the struggle” to understand. So be cool, be “objective” (!) but I would prefer empathy and humanity. Nothing postive was achieved by intimidation, shooting and blowing people up.

  • Nunoftheabove

    By any definition Kingsmills was a crime, a shameful sectarian atrocity, knowingly and deliberately planned and committed against unarmed unconnected non-combatants purely on the basis of their religion or assumed religion. It is precisely the sort of inhuman act which the Hague tribunals have been hearing about and continue to pursue suspected war criminals over in the fomer Yugoslavia and rightly so. A decent society wouldn’t tolerate any excuses for this vicious crime or enable any obstruction of justice in relation to its full investigation.

  • Neil

    I’m not excusing it. I think it likely that a badge of convenience was used by people motivated by anger and grief at what had happened. It’s just context. It may also have had a deterrent effect but I doubt that that was the end result of a rational decision to pursue that as a goal. I also think it likely and what limited evidence is available supports the view that this was a group of men, members of a variety of Republican groups who had access to weapons and who went ahead and used them.

    But there is no excuse. It was one of many heart breaking events which should never have happened. I doubt many Republicans would argue against that point.

  • Alf

    This thread gives us an interesting and sisturbing insight into the sort of mental gymnastics that republicans go through in order to justify the atrocities that their ‘military wing’ carried out. It is fascinating also to discover that they think that the driving force behind the NI Troubles, the organisation responsible for many more murders by far than any other, were somehow morally superior to the people that they were murdering. Who could possibly have ever expected that?

    A few points though.

    It was PIRA who murdered the innocent civilians at Kingsmills. Trying to blame it on one of the other more slightly Mickey Mouse republican organisations, like the INLA, will not absolve them of the blame for what they did. Even if it does provide a comfort blanket for their less intelligent drones.

    The murders were not committed in retaliation for the murders just the day before of the Reavey brothers. In fact the families have already been told by the HET that the attack had been in the planning for many weeks.

    For anyone to suggest that UVF attacks in south Armagh were stopped because of Kingsmills and that this justifies the massacre is not just grossly offensive, but also wrong. In fact the attacks stopped when the police broke up the so called Glennane gang and arrested McCaughey etc.

    The warped logic which attempts to justify Kingsmills by saying that it stopped attacks in south Armagh leads inevitably to a similarly warped logic which says that PIRA were forced into their ceasefire by the “Trick or Trick” murders etc.

    Sheehan’s comments are beneath contempt, but if a performing chimp was put up for election in West Belfast on a Sinner ticket it would undoubtably be elected. If it was caught committing an act of gross indecency, on a Sunday morning as the congregation of a Prod church came out from morning service, it would no doubt be subsequently re-elected with an increased majority.

  • joeCanuck


    Your post is a good one but undermined enormously by your closing sentence.

  • Nunoftheabove


    The last two paragraphs didn’t add anything at all and subtracted just a little.

  • Rory Carr

    Alf’s contribution might have merit were it not for a number of glaring misunderstandings of the contributions of others to date on this thread and additional unsubstantiated claims of his own:

    # No contributor, republican or other, has made any attempt to justify this massacre. A number of commentors have attempted to broaden our understanding by filling in the background in order to give context, which was prompted initially by Turgon’s very failure to so do.

    # His wounded rejection of imaginary claims by others of moral superiority requires no response.

    # His adamant insistence that it was the PIRA alone who carried out the massacre might be true but, without any evidence, has no more validity than the speculation of others so far as to who exactly might have been involved.

    # His rejection of speculation that the murders were a retaliation against earlier Loyalist murders of Catholics is in itself speculation.

    # That the Glenanne gang stopped their spree of murder after they were broken up is undoubtedly the case but that happened some time after the Kingsmills massacre.

    # That he might consider it ‘grossly offensive’ that the Glenanne Murder Gang might somehow have been deterred from their activities by the actions of an equally ruthless counter-force is interesting.

    # That the “Trick or Treat” series of murders and their likely emulation might have had some effect on the Republican Movenment in considering the worth of continuing armed struggle is hardly “warped logic” but something that has long been considered as one of a number of factors in that decison, whether accurate or not.

    Finally, Alf’s contempt is his own and he can put it where he pleases, in this case apparently above Pat Sheehan’s remarks, presumably on the comparitively “civilised” nature of the conflict looked at in the round. However, I am not of a mind to find Alf’s last remarks contemptible in the least.

    Just a little odd.

  • Alf

    Joe and Nun,

    If I thought that my closing paragraph was inaccurate I would not have written it.

  • Alf


    If find it interesting that you believe that south Armagh PIRA (lets not pretend it was anyone else) defeated the Glennane gang by murdering innocent Protestants. Though I must say that If find it even more interesting that you believe that the UVF and UFF defeated PIRA by murdering innocent Catholics.

    Fascinating logic.

    Though just a little odd.

  • Harry Flashman

    I have to say Rory that you did quite clearly imply in your initial post (“the risk was rewarded”) that the massacre was justified because it stopped further – Loyalist – killings.

    Indeed you went further and said that the killers almost suffered as much as the victims, thus underlining again the moral superiority complex of Republicans – themmuns like to kill innocent civilians but we only do it when we really have to, but then we suffer dreadful pangs of conscience afterwards, so we do. I very much doubt that the men who riddled their fellow human beings lined up against a bus did it with any less relish than the men who murdered the Reaveys the night before.

    Both groups carried out depraved acts against their neighbours and did so quite willingly. I’ve known a few IRA men in my day and I can’t recall any great amount of hand wringing anguish from them over their past deeds, on the contrary, buy them a few beers and they’ll be happy to regale you with tales of past glories. Maybe South Armagh volunteers were more Tom Brown like in their Christian piety.

    As has been pointed out, the “we really didn’t want to do it but it was necessary to stop the other lot” is precisely the same justification that the Loyalists used for killing Catholic civilians, “returning the serve” I believe they called it. You cannot have it both ways; either deliberately killing innocent civilians of the opposite religion in order to force that community to reign in their paramilitaries is wrong or it is not. If the “reward” for Kingsmills was a decrease in Loyalist violence, then surely the late Billy Wright and Johnny Adair can claim some credit, however minor, for the IRA ceasefire.

    Not a prospect which even someone as detached and unemotional about these things as you can contemplate lightly.

  • Mike the First

    Rory Carr

    “My understanding has always been that the Kingsmill massacre was carried out by the INLA. I recall being horrified at the news of the atrocity and not wishing to contemplate that things had reached such a low that the IRA would be prodded into such gross sectarian slaughter whatever the provocation.”

    This defies belief.

    A number of horrific sectarian atrocities had been carried out by the PIRA by this stage.

    How did you (and Pat Sheehan for that matter) manage to blot out the bombings at the Balmoral furniture store on the Shankill and the Four Step Inn, the Mountainview Tavern, to name two such sectarian attacks from 1971 and 1972?

    Only a few months before the Kingsmills massacre the PIRA carried out another sectarian mass murder at the Bayardo Bar. (How has one of the murderers, Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane, been viewed within the provisional republican movement?)

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Monkdewallydehonk — I’m glad that you agree all the troubles murders were wrong, that there were no winners only losers and that you don’t agree with anyone who supports terrorism. This is further backed up by your contention that you have never voted SF.

    Those who do vote SF however, must know that their vote is for a party who regard virtually everything their military wing did as being in some way justifiable. A few incidents are ‘regrettable’, one or two were even ‘wrong’ (though never a ‘crime’), but the overwhelming majority of PIRA murders were apparently carried out by ‘selfless heroes’, many of whom are commemerated at every possible opportunity, whether in the naming of GAA clubs, in annual ceremonies or on plaques and memorials.

    Contrast this with loyalist terrorists, who by your own admission were equally wrong and unjustified, but are rightly regarded by the overwhelming majority (see voting patterns for UDP, PUP etc) as at best an embaressment.

    I’ll agree with you that certain strands of Unionism have in the past (extremely ill-advisedly) had associations with loyalist paramilitaries, but this falls well short of the constant glorification of pre-meditating killers engaged in by SF.
    The deliberate choice of Sheehan (Adams mark 2) to stand for West Belfast indicates that a provo cheerleader is seen as a safe pair of hands for the 21st century. Can you name any Unionist constituencies where a UDA/UVF cheerleader might achieve anything other than a derisory vote?

    Monk: ‘They were happy to live in and support a state where for over 50 years Catholics were blatently denied, jobs housing even votes!’

    An interesting fact is that in the 1955 NI Westminster election, SF polled 152,310 votes, an impressive result not far behind the 171,942 polled by the party in 2010. The obvious question is, if Catholics were supposedly denied votes, how did SF manage to achieve such a result?

    I’m not able to visit this site as often as I’d like, hence the very late reply, but my basic premise is that all sides should agree that their actions during the troubles were wrong, unjustifiable and achieved nothing, thereafter accepting the democratic mandate of the NI people as signed up to in the GFA and moving on with a shared future. It’s hardly a lot to ask.

  • PaddyReilly

    An interesting fact is that in the 1955 NI Westminster election, SF polled 152,310 votes, an impressive result not far behind the 171,942 polled by the party in 2010. The obvious question is, if Catholics were supposedly denied votes, how did SF manage to achieve such a result?

    The simple answer is that the figures you quote are for a national election. The property qualification in local elections ensured that only the predominantly Protestant Middle Class could vote, leading to the election of Unionist councils even in areas with Nationalist majorities which then were able to discriminate in favour of Protestants in housing and jobs. In those days local councils had vastly more power in the assignment of jobs and housing.