McCreesh memorial event plan an ‘insult’ to Kingsmill families
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