Inquest into IRA massacre ordered
A new inquest has been ordered into the deaths of 10 victims of an IRA massacre amid a claim that an ex-British soldier was involved in the attack.
The Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin has directed a fresh hearing following demands by relatives of one of the 10 men, all Protestants, who were lined up by the roadside in near the village of Kingsmill, south Armagh and shot dead in January 1976. They were workmen in a minibus on their way home. One man survived.
No date has been set, but because of the backlog in Coroners Court inquests into disputed and controversial killings in Northern Ireland - many involving the security services - it could be years before there is a hearing.
Mr Larkin made the direction after studying a report by the Historical Enquiry Team (HET), a special investigative unit set up to probe unsolved murders in Northern Ireland, which discovered intelligence linked to the killings which claimed that an unidentified ex-British soldier was involved.
Belfast solicitor Kevin Winters, who is representing the family of one of the 10 men, John McConville, said the allegation about the ex-soldier was one of the main reasons why the Attorney General has ordered a second inquest.
He said: "In this particular case there are obviously many rumours and much speculation about who was involved. That speculation is rife, just as it is in many other disputed killings throughout the country. The problem has been the lack of any proper independent process to seriously examine these claims, and in this case, this quite extraordinary allegation about a former soldier's involvement."
The murders were claimed by a group calling itself, the South Armagh Republican Action Force, but even though never owned up because of the public outrage at the time, members of the Provisonal IRA have been blamed for carrying out the attack in retaliation for the loyalist UVF murders of six Catholics the night before. The weapon used were linked to dozens of other IRA shootings.
Mr McConville's sister Karen welcomed the decision to hold a new inquest.
She said: "We trust that we are edging closer to finding out the truth of what occurred in and around the Kingsmill massacre which resulted in the murders of 10 innocent men including my dear brother, John."
"We have never given up pursuing truth and justice; we owe it to our brother, to the nine others brutally murdered and to all others whose lives were devastated because of that barbaric atrocity which changed many people's lives forever."