THE funeral service for Malachy McParland, the suspected lead IRA gunman in the Kingsmill Massacre, took place last week in Dublin. He was cremated at Glasnevin Crematorium.
In what has been seen as a pointed move by the Sinn Féin leadership to distance itself from nakedly sectarian attacks such as the Kingsmill killings, his ashes were not scattered at the Republican Plot.
At the time of the massacre there was known to be tension between the IRA leadership and the South Armagh Brigade.
McParland, who was 70, died earlier in the month from cancer in a Dublin hospital, it was announced last week. The incident, which took place on January 5, 1976, was the mass shooting of ten Protestant textile workers on their way home after a day’s work at a linen factory in Glenanne. The attack occurred near Kingsmill crossroads, outside Whitecross village in Co. Armagh.
A Catholic man on the minibus was allowed to go free, and one man, Alan Black — shot 18 times — survived the attack. Last week Black, expressed mixed feelings about McParland’s death, stating that while he didn’t feel sadness or happiness, he believed McParland would have to “meet his maker” and face the consequences of his actions.
Following the incident in 1976, the IRA leadership, on ceasefire at the time, did not claim responsibility for the sectarian attack. Instead, a group calling itself the South Armagh Republican Action Force accepted responsibility.
Following the massacre, the British government declared Co. Armagh to be a “Special Emergency Area” and hundreds of extra troops and police were deployed, particularly in the south of the county, and along the border with Co; Louth. It also announced that the Special Air Service (SAS) was being moved into South Armagh. This was the first time that SAS presence in Northern Ireland was officially acknowledged.
Despite widespread belief in McParland’s involvement, he was never formally charged in connection with the massacre.
McParland lived for many years in Co. Louth and then relocated to Mulhuddart in Dublin where he ran a bicycle sales and repair business. Despite having outstanding arrest warrants related to his roles in the Kingsmill Massacre and a gun battle with the Parachute Regiment of the British army, he never faced trial.
In 1999, McParland was named under parliamentary privilege as one of the Kingsmill gunmen by then DUP leader Ian Paisley.No one has ever been convicted in connection with the murders, despite repeesentations and protests from the families of the victims. There have been consistent rumours that there was British military involvement in the Kingsmilll attack.