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Tuesday 21 January 2020

Suspect held for massacre of Protestants 40 years ago

The bullet-riddled minibus in which 10 Protestant workmen were massacred near Kingsmill in South Armagh in 1976.
The bullet-riddled minibus in which 10 Protestant workmen were massacred near Kingsmill in South Armagh in 1976.

Adrian Rutherford

Detectives were last night questioning a man in connection with one of the worst unsolved 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 lined up and mown down by an IRA gang after their minibus was stopped near the South Armagh village on January 5, 1976, as they headed home from work.

The only Catholic workman was ordered to run away.

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."

Irish Independent

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