Northern Ireland

Alan Black: Kingsmill survivor calls for report to be published before he dies

Police Ombudsman to report on more than 160 deaths despite Legacy Act deadline

Alan Lewis -        12-4-2024
Speaking after the verdict at the Belfast Coroners Court, Alan Black, the sole survivor of the gun attack in which ten protestant workmen were shot dead in the Kingsmill Massacre in January 1976.
The coroner in a marathon judgement found that it was the IRA that carried out the sectarian massacre despite them never claiming responsiblity. 
Karen Armstrong, whose brothe John McConville died, and Mr Black, speaking outside court on behalf of the bereaved families, called for a full public inquiry.
Kingsmill survivor Alan Black (Alan Lewis - Photopress Belfast/Photopress Belfast)

The sole survivor of a republican gun attack that claimed the lives of 10 Protestant workmen has urged the Police Ombudsman to publish a report into the killings before he dies.

Alan Black (80) was speaking after it emerged that the ombudsman intends to report on more than 160 deaths spanning 18 investigations despite the British government’s May 1 Legacy Act deadline.

Mr Black was among a group of Protestant men attacked after the minibus they were travelling in was stopped as they made their way home from work on January 5, 1976.

The victims were ordered from the vehicle by armed men and a Catholic co-worker was told leave the area.

Alan Lewis -               12-4-2024   
The inquests findings were made public  today , (Friday) at Belfast Coroners Court into the murders of ten protestant workmen who were taken off their works minibus and massacred in a hail of bullets on 5/1/1976.         
Original caption follows :          Richard Hughes - catholic workman spared by gunmen in IRA's infamous sectarian  massacre of 10 protestants at Kingsmills, County Armagh.
The bullet-riddled minibus at the scene of the Kingsmill massacre (Alan Lewis - Photopress Belfast/Photopress Belfast)

Despite being hit 18 times Mr Black miraculously survived.

While the attack was later claimed by the South Armagh Republican Action Force, earlier this year a coroner found the IRA was responsible.

The Kingsmill killings took place close to where Catholic brothers, John Martin Reavey (24) and Brian Reavey (22) were shot dead a day earlier by the loyalist Glenanne Gang.

A third brothers Anthony (17) died weeks later from his injuries.

Three members of the O’Dowd family were killed near Gilford in Co Down by the same gang minutes later.

The ombudsman is also expected to produce a report into the activities of the Glenanne Gang and an IRA bomb attack at the La Mon Hotel, near Belfast, that resulted in the deaths of 12 people in February 1978.

Under the Legacy Act the ombudsman is permitted to produce reports in cases where the ‘investigation phase’ was completed before the May 1 deadline.

It has now emerged that a senior Police Ombudsman official said in correspondence to Mr Black’s solicitor earlier this year that that the Kingsmill report was not complete at than time and it was intended to prepare a “situation report which will allow the ICRIR to continue the investigation should a request for them to do so be successful”.

The Kingsmill report was later added to the list of reports to be completed after legal action was threatened.

Speaking to the Irish News Mr Black said the Kingsmill report was finished in 2020.

“The state of my health, my age, I have put so much of myself into getting answers, we for myself really, it’s for peace of mind, as well as for the other families, that’s just not acceptable,” he said.

“There’s no guarantee I will be here in April 2025.

“The report is written, so why not release it?”

Mr Black suggested that the “ombudsman’s office should be working for us, not against us”.

“At my time-of-day ah the way I am, it has taken over my life and I don’t want it to take over what I have left, I have grandkids and all the rest of it,” he said.

“They have just given me so much run around.”

The survivor believes there is “definitely one agent in that gun gang”.

“There’s a British agent in there and they cannot afford to let that out because then it would open a whole can of worms,” he said.

“But that’s a can of worms that has to be opened.”

He added that while he can’t prove the existence of an agent “the one that can prove it is the ombudsman”.

Mr Black said he wants to see the report before he dies.

“I’m 80-years-old and my health isn’t good and I am driven to get this done before I go to my grave,” he said.

His solicitor Barry O’Donnell, of KRW Law, said his firm has “raised concerns about the ongoing delay and Mr Blacks age and health”.

“We may have to revert to court action if the report is not produced in a reasonable timeframe,” he said.

“Mr Black is the only surviving witness and its important he has time to engage meaningfully on the final report.”

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman said “a number of recent developments have allowed us to commit to providing the Kingsmills families with an outcome to their complaints”.

“On 12 April past, the Coroner delivered his findings on the related inquest. It was also later confirmed that the transitional arrangements for Troubles-related cases would allow for the completion of an investigation report, an important interim step towards reporting the Police Ombudsman’s findings,” he added.

“These two developments allowed the Police Ombudsman to include Kingsmills among the cases to be reported on before 1 May 2025.

The spokesman added that this “overturned our previous assessment, communicated to the families’ legal representatives on April 11, at which stage we considered that that this was not going to be possible”.