Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Kingsmill inquest adjourned in light of new forensic evidence

The inquest into the 1976 Kingsmill massacre has been adjourned after coroner Brian Sherrard agreed  that police should be given time to pursue a new lead in the investigation which emerged just a week after the inquest into the atrocity began.

The families of those who died at Kingsmill were informed of the new forensic evidence just moments before the coroner opened the court proceedings on Tuesday May 31st.

The evidence – a palm print found on a getaway van used in the attack has been linked to a well known veteran republican, after being re-examined.

The IRA was widely blamed for the massacre of 10 Protestant textile workers outside the Co Armagh village of Kingsmill in January 1976 but no-one has ever been convicted of the attack.

Mr Sherrard advised last Tuesday that, given the significance of the evidence, the PSNI should be allowed the opportunity to investigate it.

“My obligation to the deceased, to the families of the deceased and to the community as a whole, and in the interests of justice, demand that the police be allowed the opportunity to investigate this new lead.

“That, however, cannot be an open-ended opportunity,” the coroner said.

“I am acutely aware that more than 40 years have passed since the attack and that those closest to the deceased require answers while they are fit enough to participate.”

The coroner said the discovery of the palm print had “shaken the confidence of a number of families who now wonder who to believe and what they can believe.” He agreed that their reaction was “quite understandable given the timing”.

“These families wish the inquest to push on despite this development as they see it as the best way for them to gain an insight into the deaths all those years ago,” he said.

“This is the first and best opportunity since 1976 to establish a verifiable link between the person who has been identified and the attack. That link may produce many more leads,” he added.

Speaking outside the court after the adjournment was announced, Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth was killed in the atrocity, said: “The first thing we need is truth. You don’t get justice until you have the truth.

“At the minute we are just waiting for the truth, and obviously justice will follow.”

Mr Worton also said that his faith in the police investigation was “ebbing away.”

Judge Sherrard said a timetable would be put in place and that families would be kept informed as to the progress of the investigation.

The inquest is expected to resume on 21 June.