The sole survivor of the Kingsmill shooting has dedicated his New Year honour to those who have supported him. Alan Black was made an MBE for services to the community in south Armagh in the latest Queen's Honours list.
Mr Black said the fact he had been recognised by the Queen was “still sinking in” but he wanted to accept the award for all those who supported him over the years. “I'm not being humble or anything when I say, I'm only one person, but the people of Bessbrook who've supported me over the years, and some have been very tough years, they've never failed in their support for me so I'm going to widen it out and," he said.
Mr Black was shot 18 times in the hail of bullets that killed 10 of his work colleagues on the outskirts of the south Armagh village of Kingsmill in 1976. The IRA was widely blamed for what has become known as the Kingsmill massacre. The factory workers were ambushed as they travelled along the Whitecross to Bessbrook road in rural south Armagh on 5 January 1976 in an attack seen as a reprisal for a series of loyalist killings in the same area in the days beforehand. The men's minibus was stopped by a man waving a red light and those on board were asked their religion by a camouflaged gunman with an English accent.
The workers had initially mistaken the man for a soldier.
The only Catholic workman was ordered to run away.
The killers, who had been hidden in the hedges, ordered the remaining 11 Protestant men to line up outside the van and then opened fire.
Mr Black was the only survivor.
Three years later, he went on to set up a cross community football youth club in his home village of Bessbrook in 1979. "It wasn't to get the communities together, it was to keep them together because Bessbrook was always integrated and had good community relations," he said. "Well, we started off with one team and we ended up with nine, there are nine at the moment." Unionist councillor David Taylor welcomed the honour for Mr Black. "This is a much-deserved award to Alan Black, who despite enduring and surviving one of the most horrific events of the entire Troubles, has shown nothing but dignity and humanity throughout his life," he said.
"I want to extend my warm congratulations to Alan and his family and many friends. "I know his recognition in the New Year Honours List will be well received by people locally and much further afield as both he and the Kingsmill families continue their battle for truth and justice, even after 45 long years."