McCreesh memo­rial event plan an ‘in­sult’ to Kingsmill fam­i­lies

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY RE­BECCA BLACK

THE brother of a man mur­dered in the Kingsmill mas­sacre has de­scribed plans to hold a memo­rial event for one of the sus­pects as a “fur­ther in­sult” to his fam­ily.

Dis­si­dent group Sao­radh in­tends to mark the 37th an­niver­sary of the death of Ray­mond McCreesh on Sun­day.

It hopes to hold the memo­rial at the Newry play park con­tro­ver­sially named af­ter the IRA hunger striker.

How­ever, the group has not re­ceived per­mis­sion from Newry, Mourne and Down District Coun­cil, which owns the site and which said it was “not aware” of the event.

McCreesh was caught in pos­ses­sion of a gun used in the 1976 mas­sacre, in which 10 Protes­tant work­men were mur­dered by the IRA.

Saroadh’s Stephen Mur­ney said the or­gan­i­sa­tion planned to re­mem­ber him in a “dig­ni­fied and fit­ting fash­ion”.

But Colin Wor­ton, whose brother, Ken­neth, was among the vic­tims, said it “beg­gared be­lief ” that any­one could look up to McCreesh as a hero.

“It’s more added insults — they are treat­ing him as a hero, but he was any­thing but a hero,” he added. “How can you take a mass mur­derer as a hero?

“We even still have some repub­li­cans who don’t be­lieve the IRA car­ried out the Kingsmill mas­sacre.

“It’s been proven that they did, but many repub­li­cans still don’t want to ac­knowl­edge that it was the IRA be­cause it was such a heinous crime car­ried out in the name of repub­li­can­ism.”

Mr Wor­ton also ac­cused repub­li­cans of dou­ble stan­dards, re­fer­ring to re­cent complaints from two Sinn Fein MPs about SAS flags fly­ing in Lough­gall on the an­niver­sary of the 1987 am­bush, in which Bri­tish spe­cial

forces killed eight IRA men as they bombed the lo­cal RUC sta­tion.

“The na­tion­al­ist com­mu­nity gave out about that, but do they not see they have egg on their face? They say one thing shouldn’t go up, but they can’t seem to un­der­stand where we are com­ing from,” he said.

“It’s dou­ble stan­dards. They couldn’t care less about the Kingsmill fam­i­lies.”

DUP MLA Wil­liam Ir­win and vic­tims cam­paigner Wil­liam Frazer urged the coun­cil to in­ter­vene and stop the memo­rial event.

“Host­ing such a rally on coun­cil prop­erty in a chil­dren’s play area re­ally is un­ac­cept­able and in­deed of­fen­sive, and this should

be pre­vented by Newry, Mourne and Down District Coun­cil,” Mr Ir­win said.

“The coun­cil as a cor­po­rate body has a huge re­spon­si­bil­ity in this re­gard, and they must act de­ci­sively to pre­vent this space be­ing used for any­thing other than kids’ enjoyment.”

Mr Frazer said he was con­sid­er­ing a counter-protest.

“This is pub­licly funded ground, and to al­low such an event would add deep in­sult to the fam­i­lies, fur­ther­ing their hurt and dis­com­fort,” he added.

“The Kingsmill fam­i­lies have been in touch with our of­fice and are dev­as­tated. If or­gan­is­ers have not re­ceived per­mis­sion, this event needs stopped.”

Ul­ster Union­ist coun­cil­lor David Tay­lor said the coun­cil had con­firmed to him that per­mis­sion for the event had not been sought.

“It is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able for such an event to be held on pub­licly owned prop­erty, and it serves as a fur­ther at­tempt by repub­li­cans to cause max­i­mum in­sult and heartache to the innocent vic­tims of IRA vi­o­lence. It is wrong on so many lev­els,” he said.

McCreesh, from Cam­lough in south Ar­magh, was caught at­tempt­ing to mur­der sol­diers in 1977 with a gun found to have been used at Kingsmill. He died in the 1981 hunger strike in the Maze Prison.

Ear­lier this year, Sinn Fein MP Barry McEl­duff re­signed for ap­pear­ing to mock the vic­tims of the mas­sacre by pos­ing in a video with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head.

At the time of the scan­dal, a Sinn Fein spokesman said: “Re­gard­less of who car­ried out the Kingsmill at­tack, whether it was the IRA or not, it was wrong, un­jus­ti­fi­able and sec­tar­ian in na­ture. We con­demn it.”

While the IRA pre­vi­ously de­nied re­spon­si­bil­ity, a 2011 re­port by the His­tor­i­cal En­quiries Team con­cluded IRA mem­bers were re­spon­si­ble.

The nam­ing of the play park af­ter McCreesh sparked a lengthy row af­ter Sinn Fein and SDLP coun­cil­lors backed the move.

In 2008 the Equal­ity Com­mis­sion called for the coun­cil to un­der­take an equal­ity im­pact as­sess­ment, but the coun­cil stuck by its de­ci­sion. In 2013, the Com­mis­sion an­nounced it would in­ves­ti­gate the de­ci­sion.

Last month a mo­tion brought by union­ists call­ing for the coun­cil to re­name the park failed.

Clock­wise from main: the af­ter­math of the Kingsmill mas­sacre; Colin Wor­ton, whose brother was one of those mur­dered; the McCreesh play park in Newry. Be­low: hunger striker Ray­mond McCreesh

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