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Families vow to hunt down IRA killers in the Republic

(Suzanne Breen, Sunday World)

The victims of IRA massacres in South Armagh have sent a stark warning to the Provos behind the slaughter – 'We're coming after you'.

Families whose loved ones were murdered are preparing to hunt down the suspects they claim are today freely walking the streets of the Republic.

The relatives are frustrated that the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) hasn't the legal right to interview suspects across the Border. They've raised the issue with Taoiseach Enda Kenny but so far haven't received a reply.

Most of the senior ex-Provos responsible for the Kingsmill and Tullyvallen Orange hall massacres – plus dozens of other attacks – are living openly in the Republic, the grieving families claim.

"We're going to confront them face-to-face," says May Quinn. Her brother Robert Walker was murdered at Kingsmill when the Provos ordered 10 Protestant workers off a minibus and shot them by the roadside.

"We're not frightened to look into the eyes of the men who butchered our loved ones like they were animals and ask, 'Why did you do it?'" Quinn says.

"Kingsmill was genocide. Those responsible should be put on trial for war crimes in the Hague but most weren't even questioned by police. The least we can do now is track them down and challenge them."

The move follows victims' campaigner Willie Frazer, and the daughter of a man murdered by the IRA, confronting IRA killer Mooch Blair after he emerged from the Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin last week.

Blair smiled when challenged by Frazer and Manya Dickinson whose builder father Kenny Graham was killed by the IRA for working for the security forces. But the ex-Provo was clearly shaken by the encounter.

"There's more on the way," says Frazer. "We're taking our campaign for justice to the homes and workplaces of the murderers. If people think that's unfair, they should remember these men brought murder to our doors.

"They gunned down fathers, brothers, and husbands. We're being kinder to them than they were to us. We're not going to blow their heads off – only to ask then questions."

Frazer said the relatives felt coming face-to-face with those who killed their loved ones would help bring them closure.

"We won't be chasing the low-ranking IRA man – the boys who hid guns or bought getaway cars. We're going after the godfathers, the men who masterminded the attacks," he pledged.

"Our warning to these murderers is 'From now on look over your shoulder wherever you go because we could be there'."

Frazer said victims were angry that the HET hadn't the legal power to quiz suspects living the Republic: "We're sick hearing 'this can't be done, that can't be done'.

"We're fed up being told to 'move on'. There are people whose full-time job is to hunt down Nazis for atrocities carried out 70 years ago. Nobody stands in their way or tells them to forget it."

Jean Lemmon, whose husband Joe was killed at Kingsmill said: "I'm 88-years-old but I still want to challenge his killers. I owe it to him. He was a great husband and father. The pain in my heart has never ceased."

Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth (24) was murdered at Kingsmill, said: "I used to think the killers had to be on drugs to coolly shoot 10 innocent men by the side of the road.

"I want to see the expression on their faces when we confront them. I don't know how I'd feel if they laughed. Kenneth was murdered 35 years ago but it's still so raw for our family."

Worton said he wanted to talk to the killers: "I'm open to forgiving them if they're genuinely sorry for what they did and now reject violence."

The Kingsmill families will meet DUP First Minister, Peter Robinson, at Stormont tomorrow to demand a public inquiry into the 1976 atrocity.

December 11, 2011

This article appeared in the December 11, 2011 edition of the Sunday World.

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