The Kingsmill Massacre took place on January 5th, 1976. 10 Protestant workmen were shot and killed near the village of Kingsmill, Co. Armagh. Alan Black was the only survivor. He joined Miriam O’Callaghan on Sunday with Miriam to discuss the controversy surrounding Sinn Féin MP Barry McElduff appearing to mock the event on social media. As reported today, Mr McElduff is to stand down as a Westminster MP with immediate effect.
Alan recounted the moment he and the rest of the factory workers were stopped by a man on their way home after work. The driver of the mini-bus they were travelling in stopped at what they thought was a checkpoint. The man came to the window.
“He just shouted, ‘Everybody out…who’s the Catholic?”
Alan said that the man pulled one of the workers from the group, a Catholic man, telling him to run. A number of gunmen appeared and began shooting at the remaining men. Alan remembers it all in vivid detail.
“The noise of the gunfire was deafening. It’s something I’ll never, ever forget. And what they’d done, they’d shot us all at waist-level. I suppose to stop anyone from running away. And that lasted maybe 10 seconds. And the next thing…I was hit multiple times and so was, I take it, so was everyone else. But it was absolutely awful because there was screams of pain. There was some of them, weren’t able to scream and they were moaning. They were groaning. My 19-year-old apprentice, he fell across my legs and…it was absolutely horrific. He was calling…calling for his Mummy. ‘Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!’. And the next thing, the gunfire stopped and the same guy that had done all the talking said ‘Finish them off’.“
Alan explained that at that point, the goal of surviving was forefront in his mind.
“I thought the only chance I had was not to flinch. Not to move. At all costs, don’t move...I could see blood spurting out of my chest and I was trying to plug the holes with my fingers to stop myself from bleeding to death.”
After the gunmen “casually walked away”, a local couple came on the scene and helped Alan. He told Miriam that the aftermath of the massacre was difficult to deal with.
“I would go up to collect the two boys [his sons] from the school and I would be meeting the orphans and I would be meeting the widows…and I felt so guilty about being alive.”
Miriam asked if Alan feels bitter about the experience he went through. He thinks that while “sadness” plays a role, it’s not bitterness.
“How could I be bitter? It wasn’t Catholics that killed us. It was the IRA.”
The Kingsmill massacre has been back in the headlines following a social media post by Sinn Féin MP, Barry McElduff, in which he appeared to mock the event. Alan found this incident hurtful.
“I have a great loyalty to the boys that died, my friends. And I’ve a great loyalty to the families of the dead. So, for…to get them disrespected the way that they were last week is very, very hard to take. It’s a bad time of the year for me and for the other families. And for that…for Barry McElduff to come out and...total disrespect, you know? To my mind, it was depraved what he done. And it was dancing on their graves. He seemed to be celebrating their deaths. And if he had seen what I had seen that night, that has lived with me ever since, he wouldn’t have done it.”
As for the question of whether McElduff could have unintentionally caused this offence, Alan has a firm stance on the matter.
“I have listened to him on the radio. I’ve listened to him on TV. I’ve read articles. He’s a very astute politician. He’s a very clever man...With the inquest ongoing the Kingsmill mothers have been in the media quite a lot this past couple of years. So, he did know. He did know. He done it deliberately to cause hurt and he succeeded in spades in the hurt that he caused.”
To listen back to the whole interview with Alan Black on Sunday with Miriam, click here.
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