Northern Ireland

Michelle O’Neill ‘sorry’ for every life lost in Troubles and says Kingsmill families deserve truth and justice

A long running inquest into the 1976 atrocity last week criticised the IRA and its political representatives for not engaging with proceedings.

Kingsmill Massacre survivor Alan Black (front)
Kingsmill Massacre survivor Alan Black (front) (Oliver McVeigh/PA)

Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O’Neill has said the families of the 10 men killed in the Kingsmill massacre deserve truth and justice.

An inquest into the 1976 killing of ten Protestant workmen in Co Armagh concluded on Friday, stating that the murders were carried out by the IRA in an overtly sectarian attack.

Unionist parties have called for a public inquiry into the murders and criticised Sinn Féin for its failure to engage with the Kingsmill inquest.

While the atrocity was claimed by a little-known paramilitary group calling itself the South Armagh Republican Action Force, coroner Brian Sherrard concluded that the IRA was responsible.

First Minister Michelle O’Neill
First Minister Michelle O’Neill (Liam McBurney/PA)

He also heavily criticised the IRA, and its political representatives, for failing to engage with the proceedings.

The sole survivor of the shooting, Alan Black, and relatives of one of the victims have called for a public inquiry into the attack, insisting the coronial proceedings had failed to answer their questions.

Ms O’Neill described last week – which also saw the inquest findings into the deaths of three IRA members at the hands of the army at Coagh, Co Tyrone, and also a challenge by government to an inquest into the death of GAA official Sean Brown – as “very bruising”.

“Let me be again categorical, I am sorry for every loss of life throughout the conflict, but my job as a political leader of today is to build towards the future, is to try and help to heal the wounds of the past,” she told media in Belfast.

Ms O’Neill said the Kingsmill inquest “underlines why we need to deal with the past properly”, and criticised the British government’s legacy Act as “driving a coach and horses through the desires, wishes and needs of all families”.

“That includes the Kingsmill families who deserve truth and justice, who deserve a public inquiry, who deserve answers, but for my job as leader of today, I speak for Sinn Féin, I speak as first minister in front of you today, I am sorry for every lost life including those in the Kingsmill disaster,” she added.