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Man arrested over 1976 Kingsmills murders  
6th-Aug-2016 03:34 am
Fifty-nine-year-old held on suspicion of killing 10 Protestant workmen in County Armagh after forensic breakthrough

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
5 August 2016

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A bullet-riddled minibus near Whitecross in south Armagh, where 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead in a suspected reprisal attack. (Photograph: PA)

A fresh police investigation into one of the most notorious sectarian mass killings of the Northern Ireland Troubles has led to the arrest of a 59-year-old man.

The arrest on Friday follows a breakthrough by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in their historical inquiry into the Kingsmills massacre in which 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead in 1976.

At the end of May this year the PSNI said they had made a potential DNA match regarding a palm print on the getaway vehicle used by the people behind the murders.

Although the organisation has never admitted responsibility for the atrocity, the IRA is widely blamed for the attack during which the killers freed the only Catholic man on the workers minibus before gunning down his colleagues.

Their minibus had been stopped on the Whitecross to Bessbrook Road at Kingsmills in South Armagh by a man who had an English accent waving a red light. The victims, according to one of the survivors of the massacre, believed at first that the man was a British soldier.

Karen Armstrong with a photograph of her brother John McConville, who was killed in the Kingsmill attack (Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA)

The gunmen, who were hiding in hedges, ordered the workers to leave the van and then questioned them about their religion. After allowing the Catholic worker to flee, the IRA unit then opened fire on the Protestant workers.

The revelation about the palm print was made during the first week of a long-delayed inquest into the Kingsmills atrocity this year.

The man the PSNI arrested on Friday is from the Newry area of South Armagh. The Newry and Armagh Ulster Unionist member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Danny Kennedy, who worked closely with the Kingsmills families for an inquest, welcomed the arrest. He said: “The families and sole survivor have waited 40 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.”

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

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