John O'Dowd says Kingsmill did not advance Irish unity

John O'Dowd said the Kingsmill massacre was sectarian

A FORMER Sinn Féin minister has described the notorious Kingsmill massacre as "shameful" and purely sectarian.

John O'Dowd also spoke about how his relatives were murdered less than 24 hours before the massacre of ten Protestant workmen in January 1976.

The Sinn Féin MLA was speaking about the controversy surrounding a video tweeted by his party colleague Barry McElduff on the 42nd anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre.

Mr McElduff was suspended from Sinn Féin for three months after posting a video showing him with a Kingsmill loaf on his head.

Mr O'Dowd said as a republican he was shamed by the killings and that the perpetrators should be ashamed.

He said the killings were sectarian.

"Those who carried it out did not advance the cause of Irish unity in any way," he said.

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

Mr O'Dowd said the massacre, which is widely blamed on the IRA, was wrong "regardless of who carried it out, whether it was the IRA, or others, or people acting from the IRA".

Speaking on BBC's The View, he said he remembered the killings "very, very well".

"I'll tell you why I remember it well – I had two cousins and an uncle shot dead the night before and had another uncle left for dead," The Upper Bann MLA said.

Brothers Declan (19) and Barry O’Dowd (24) and their uncle Joe (61) were shot dead by members of the Glenanne gang at a family gathering in Ballydougan, near Gilford, on the night of January 4.

Declan and Barry’s father Barney, a member of the SDLP, was seriously injured in the hail of bullets. The attack took place only minutes after brothers Anthony, 17, Brian, 22, and John Martin Reavey, 24, were shot at their home near Whitecross.

The Kingsmill massacre occurred the following night.

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