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Kingsmills families welcome arrest 40 years after massacre

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 06/08/2016

Alan Black survived
Alan Black survived
Colin Worton whose brother was killed

Detectives were last night questioning a man in connection with one of the worst massacres of the Troubles.

The arrest of the suspect has been described as a step towards justice 40 years after 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead at Kingsmills.

The 59-year-old was detained by detectives from the PSNI's legacy investigation branch in the Newry area yesterday.

He is being quizzed on suspicion of the murder of 10 men and the attempted murder of another.

The survivor, Alan Black, who was shot 18 times and left for dead, said he was stunned by the arrest. "I don't really know what to think, to be honest," he said.

"I am still trying to take it in.

"For 40 years the police were not interested in Kingsmills but this, I suppose, is a development at least.

"We will just have to wait and see what happens and whether any charges are brought against this person."

Yesterday's arrest came two months after police announced a major forensic breakthrough in the unsolved investigation into the atrocity.

The workmen were shot dead by an IRA gang after their minibus was stopped near the South Armagh village on January 5, 1976. They were travelling home from work in a textile factory when they were ambushed.

The only Catholic workman was ordered to run away.

The killers, who had been hiding in the hedges, ordered their victims to line up outside the van and then opened fire.

The men who died were: John Bryans, Robert Chambers, Reginald Chapman, Walter Chapman, Robert Freeburn, Joseph Lemmon, John McConville, James McWhirter, Robert Samuel Walker and Kenneth Worton.

Mr Black, a 32-year-old father of three at the time, was seriously wounded and spent months recovering in hospital.

A fresh inquest into the massacre opened on May 23. However, barely a week after restarting, it emerged fresh evidence had been uncovered.

A palm print found in the getaway vehicle was re-examined by forensic scientists days after the inquest opened, and a potential match was identified on the police database.

Reacting to yesterday's arrest, Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth was one of those killed, said: "We were disillusioned when we were told at the inquest about the discovery of the palm print after 40 years. But I believe this has to be a positive development."

UUP MLA Danny Kennedy, a prominent supporter of the families' quest for justice, described the arrest as a "potentially positive development".

William Irwin, a DUP MLA, said the Kingsmills families deserved justice, adding: "There is obviously an active criminal case which must be taken forward and I would hope that can be taken forward swiftly."

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