The Kingsmill Massacre in South Armagh on January 5 1976 was perhaps the low point of a twisted and eventually pointless dirty war . The day before six Catholic men had been murdered in Lurgan and Whitecross by so-called ‘loyalist’ gunmen, that atrocity supposedly revenge for another where three Protestant men had been killed in a pub. The horrors regressed back into history; the attacks progressed in their death toll, culminating in the cold-blooded slaughter of 10 Protestant men returning home from their jobs in a textile plant.
Near the village of Kingsmill about a dozen terrorists stopped the mini-bus used to ferry the workers to their homes in the villages of Whitecross and Bessbrook. Some had already been dropped off in Whitecross, but 10 remained along with the driver. The murderers identified the one Catholic among the party, and ordered him to walk away. The rest were lined up at the side of the road then mown down in a hail of bullets. Incredibly one of the men survived in spite of being shot 18 times.
As so often after the worst atrocities by either side in the bloody struggle the organisation responsible hid beneath newly-coined titles; there were arguments about whether the IRA had or hadn’t sanctioned the action; some subsequently tried to justify the massacre on the grounds that it stopped further killing of Catholics. But how can there ever be justification for such horrific butchery?
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