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Kingsmills massacre: Man arrested on suspicion of 1976 murders

Unionist MLAs have welcomed the move which comes 40 years after ten Protestant workmen were shot dead by the IRA.

Published 05/08/2016

The Kingsmills massacre, which was carried out by the IRA in January 1976
The Kingsmills massacre, which was carried out by the IRA in January 1976

A 59-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of 10 men and the attempted murder of one - in the Kingsmills massacre in 1976.

Detectives from the PSNI's Legacy Investigation Branch arrested the man in Newry.

The 10 men were shot dead by the IRA on January 5, 1976 after their minibus home from work was pulled over on a remote country road in south Armagh.

After checking their religion, the gang ordered one Catholic to leave before opening 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.

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

No-one has ever been convicted in connection with the shootings.

In May it emerged the PSNI was reopening the investigation into the massacre after fresh evidence emerged.

A second inquest had been taking place into the atrocity however proceedings were halted in June following the matching of a palm print which was found on the gun men's getaway vehicle.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison said: “The male was arrested in the Newry area today and is currently assisting with enquiries.

“I would also appeal to anyone with any information in relation to the murders at Kingsmill to contact police on 101 or alternatively, contact the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Ulster Unionist MLA has described the arrest as a "potentially positive development in pursuit of the maximum level of justice for the Kingsmills victims".

Mr Kennedy, who represents Newry & Armagh, and who has worked closely with the Kingsmills relatives, said the families have waited more than 40 years for justuce.

“The Kingsmills massacre in 1976 shocked not only Northern Ireland but much farther afield. The sectarian massacre of ten Protestant workmen by the IRA remains a stain on south Armagh," he said.

“The families and sole survivor have waited forty years in their pursuit of maximum truth and justice for this brutal and barbaric crime.

“The news that someone has been arrested in connection with Kingsmills must be seen as a potentially positive development. We must now wait and allow the police investigation to take its course.

“It is my sincere hope that the police now have a realistic prospect of mounting a successful prosecution of some of those responsible.”

DUP MLA William Irwin said he hopes the criminal case proceeds quickly.

"Forty years have passed since one of the worst sectarian atrocities of the Troubles," he said.

"The pain of the Kingsmills families has not diminished over those decades and they deserve to see someone brought to justice for the murder of their loved ones.

"There is obviously an active criminal case which must be taken forward and I would hope that can be taken forward swiftly.

"The Kingsmills atrocity was not planned and carried out by one individual alone however and it is vital that whilst the possibility of justice remains that all efforts should be expended to identify all those involved."

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