ONE of the Greysteel killers has apologised for the massacre which killed eight people at the Rising Sun bar in 1993.
Torrens Knight said the atrocity - 20 years ago this Wednesday - "should never have happened".
In one of the most notorious incidents of the Troubles, Knight and fellow UFF members Jeffrey Deeney, Stephen Irwin and Brian McNeill killed six Catholics and two Protestants in the attack on October 30.
The gunmen shouted "trick or treat" before opening fire on defenceless customers of the Co Derry pub.
Knight's apology echoes that of Shankill bomber Sean Kelly who survived an attack on a fishmongers in 1993 which killed 10 people including his co-bomber Thomas Begley.
As the 20th anniversary of that atrocity was marked earlier this month, Kelly told victims he was "truly sorry for the loss of life" - an apology rejected by the families of those killed.
Knight was given 12 life sentences for his part in the Greysteel attack and the murders of four Catholic workmen in Castlerock in March 1993.
He was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in 2000 but returned to prison in 2009 for at tacking two sisters in a Coleraine bar. He was released again the following year.
In a message to victims, Knight said: "I am sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, But there's nothing I could say could help.
"The victims are the ones who have to carry on with life and they are still paying the price.
"That's how I feel. It shouldn't have happened, it was a terrible thing.
"I wish all the atrocities didn't happen," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
East Derry SDLP assembly member John Dallat said the apology was "belated" and "too little too late".
Mr Dallat also called for the arrest of Billy McFarlane - a leader of the UFF in north Antrim and east Derry at the time of the atrocity.
"If [Knight[ is sincere then he can step up to the plate and explain precisely the involvement of McFarlane in the Greysteel and other killings of those dark and terrible days 20 years ago," he added.
Mr Dallat said McFarlane was named in interviews to police in the wake of the attack.
"McFarlane holds the key to much that needs to be known in north Antrim and Derry so that we can fully understand the horrors of the past, learn from them and create a new dawn when the term 'paramilitary' will be an obsolete term and not one that continues to occupy the vocabulary of politicians and community leader on an ongoing basis as if paramilitaries were a normal part of society," he said.
It is understood a special Mass will be held on Wednesday in memory of the Greysteel victims.
There was controversy last month when another of the killers Stephen Irwin (40) was released from prison after his case was discussed with a parole board.
He had been sent back to jail after slashing a football supporter with a knife in 2005 at the Irish Cup final.
* TRAGEDY: A memorial plaque to the victims of the Greysteel atrocity when eight innocents - six Catholics and two Protestants - were gunned down by a UFF gang at the Rising Sun bar on October 30 1993
* 'TRULY SORRY': Torrens Knight who - along with fellow UFF members Jeffrey Deeney, Stephen Irwin and Brian McNeill - carried out the notorious murders in Greysteel in 1993. Knight has apologised for his role in the atrocity, with the 20th anniversary just days away PICTURE: Pacemaker