PPS decision on Kingsmill suspect expected this week

February 6, 2017

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) is expected to make a decision this week on whether a case will be taken against a suspect whose palm print was allegedly found on a getaway van used in the Kingsmill massacre.

According to a letter sent to Coroner Brian Sherrard  a prosecutorial decision is set to be announced within days.

Ten protestant workmen were shot dead in the January 1976 massacre when their mini-bus was ambushed near the village of Kingsmills in south Armagh. The men were asked their religion and the only Catholic was ordered to run away.

The remaining men were then forced to line up outside the van before the gang opened fire.  Bessbrook man Alan Black was the only survivor of the attack, despite being shot 18 times.

An inquest into the atrocity began 40 years after the killings but was suspended in September last year following the forensic breakthrough by police, who believed they had matched the palm print to an individual.

Two months later a 59-year-old man was arrested in Newry, before being released pending a police file being sent to prosecutors for assessment.

A PSNI lawyer, speaking at an early inquest hearing said detectives believed the print belonged to the arrested man.

Belfast Coroner’s Court heard last Monday that additional investigative material sought by prosecutors from police had been recently passed on.

Welcoming the indication of an imminent decision from the PPS, Coroner Brian Sherrard said the PPS decision would guide the next steps in the process and added that if the decision was not to prosecute then he would move to reconvene the inquest at the earliest opportunity.

Mr Sherrard also said he would address the issue of material still to be received and disclosed to the legal parties from An Garda Siochana.

In 2015, Taoiseach Enda Kenny promised that all Garda files related to the murders would be handed over to the Coroner’s Service in Northern Ireland.

Last week, Newry and Armagh Ulster Unionist election candidate Danny Kennedy called on the Irish Government to “keep its word and deliver what was promised to the Kingsmills families”.

Mr Kennedy, who was present at the March 2015 meeting where the Taoiseach assured the Kingsmills families and public representatives of the full co-operation of the Irish government with the inquest, added,

“I regret to say that we are now almost two years on, and yet the families are still waiting. It is high time the Government…..kept its word and delivered what was promised to the Kingsmills families.”