Ten Protestant workers shot dead in South Armagh ambush the day after six Catholics were killed by loyalist paramilitaries
Henry McDonaldThe Guardian
17 Sept 2014The bullet-riddled minibus in Kingsmills, where 10 Protestants were shot dead. No one has been convicted of the killings. (Photograph: PA Archive)A new full inquest is to be held into the IRA massacre of 10 Protestant workers shot dead in South Armagh in 1976.
The men were taken out of their minibus and then riddled with bullets at Kingsmills. Their sole Catholic colleague was spared because of his religion.
Although the Provisional IRA never publicly admitted it was responsible, victims' campaigners, republicans and politicians blame its South Armagh Brigade. No one has been convicted in relation to the deaths.
The Historical Enquiries Team – the police unit tasked with investigating unsolved past crimes from Ulster's Troubles – has also laid the blame for the massacre at the Provisionals' door.
Northern Ireland's coroner, John Leckey, said on Wednesday that the inquest would begin on 1 June next year. One of the key witnesses will be Alan Black, who survived despite being shot 18 times. In previous evidence, the former textile worker who is now 70, said the gunmen went around the vehicle asking each man his religion before they began firing, only releasing the worker who was Catholic.
The atrocity was carried out on 5 January 1976, 24 hours after six Catholics were killed by loyalist paramilitaries in South Armagh. A group calling itself the South Armagh Reaction Force admitted responsibility although survivors and their supporters always insisted PIra activists who were behind the killings.
A number of the relatives of the 10 men have claimed one of the gunmen that night was Raymond McCreesh, an IRA prisoner who died during the 1981 hunger strike in the Maze prison. Republicans have denied McCreesh was a member of the unit that killed the Kingsmills workers.