Families '˜have sparked new police inquiries' over Kingsmills massacre

New lines of inquiry into the IRA's Kingsmills massacre are being pursued by police after victims intervened, a lawyer told an inquest.

Families made representations to detectives and prosecutors investigating the January 1976 slaughter.

Ten Protestant workmen were gunned down when their minibus was ambushed in rural south Armagh. Those on board were asked their religion and the only Catholic was ordered to run away.

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Sean Doran QC, legal counsel to a coroner reviewing the killings, outlined a letter from prosecutors received earlier this month.

He said: “The indication in that correspondence was that representations had been made to the police and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) on behalf of the families of the victims in the case and that police now have a number of further investigative inquiries to progress.

“The correspondence goes on to confirm that a prosecution decision will be advanced as soon as possible after completion of the outstanding police inquiries.”

An inquest began 40 years after the killings but was suspended following a major forensic breakthrough by police.

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Police believed a palm print found on a vehicle used during the killing belonged to a suspect arrested earlier this year, a previous sitting of the inquest was told.

Mr Doran told today’s session in Belfast that the coroner Judge Brian Sherrard has written to the PPS asking for an indicative time scale when inquiries may be completed and when a decision can be expected.

Kingsmill was one of the most notorious sectarian atrocities attributed to the IRA by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) of independent detectives.

The killers, who had been hidden in hedges, forced the Protestant textile factory workers to line up outside the van before opening fire.

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Those 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 survived, despite being shot 18 times, and was at today’s inquest hearing.

No-one has been convicted.

The inquest has outlined suspected linkages between weapons used at Kingsmills and other shootings.

Lawyers on Thursday said a document outlining those connections was being prepared as well as various matters surrounding disclosure and the redaction of official documents. Two additional potential military witnesses from Royal Scots have been identified.

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Lawyers for the families of those killed have appealed for top secret intelligence material to be released to the inquest.

Mr Sherrard told assembled family members: “This is a bit like a duck on the water floating along. The legs are working furiously under the water.”

Mr Black’s solicitor Barry O’Donnell said afterwards: “The investigation into the deaths at Kingsmill and the attempted murder of Alan Black has been beset by several serious assaults undermining the integrity of the investigation.”