The sole survivor of the Kingsmills massacre has said John O’Dowd’s condemnation of the atrocity represents “a giant step in the right direction”.
Alan Black, who miraculously survived the 1976 massacre despite being shot 18 times and left for dead, gave the Sinn Fein MLA’s remarks an unreserved welcome.
However Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth was murdered at Kingsmills, noted that Sinn Fein still refuses to accept that the IRA carried out the brutal attack, in which ten Protestant workmen were killed.
South Armagh victim’s campaigner William Frazer dismissed Mr O’Dowd’s comments as “typical Sinn Fein politicking; nothing but hollow buzz words”.
He added: “If Sinn Fein were serious in their condemnation of Kingsmills they would offer an apology on behalf of the IRA for not only this brutal attack but for the sectarian ethnic cleansing campaign in it’s totality.”
Mr O’Dowd told BBC’s The View programme: “What happened at Kingsmill was wrong, it was sectarian and regardless of who carried it out whether it was the IRA or others, or people acting from the IRA it was wrong.”
When asked if he felt Mr O’Dowd should have gone further and acknowledged the IRA’s role in the notorious attack, Mr Black told the News Letter: “I think he went much further than anyone expected him to.
“Some may see it as taking baby steps, but compare these remarks to what Barry McElduff did last week. It is a massive step forward.
“I welcome what Mr O’Dowd has said and I have no red lines.
“Now Mr O’Dowd has taken this important step, maybe he will take another.
“Politics has taken a nose dive over the past week and if this is Sinn Fein trying to right the ship then it is to be welcomed.”
Mr Worton told the News Letter yesterday that his family had given a “cautious welcome” to Mr O’Dowd’s condemnation of the sectarian murders, but said republicans now need to take “the final step”.
He added: “We would ask the IRA to issue a statement accepting they ordered the murders, they were not carried out by a rogue unit and apologise to the victims and their families for the suffering and harm caused.”