Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Kingsmill inquest evidence angers victims’ families

Relatives of the Kingsmill victims’ have angrily criticised the RUC investigation in the aftermath of the murders following evidence revealed at the ongoing inquest in Belfast.

In recent days the inquest has heard how police were denied permission to question a number of alleged suspects, by orders from the RUC Special Branch, while an IRA informer named a number of high profile republicans, some of whom are now deceased, as having been involved in the killings of the ten Protestant workmen near Whitecross in January 1976.

The inquest was told the original RUC investigation was short of manpower as Detective Chief Inspector James Mitchell, who led the investigation, faced questions over failures to interview potentially vital witnesses.

Giving evidence, Mr Mitchell said that he arrived at the scene of the murders within 20 minutes of receiving the emergency call and was greeted with what he described in court as “one of the most gruesome murder scenes of the Troubles”.

He told the court that he required between 40 and 50 detectives to work on such a huge murder investigation, but the maximum he was given was 12 detectives and two sergeants.  The former officer also confirmed that the RUC had planned to interview a suspected IRA man but the force’s Special Branch officers denied them access to the suspect, while reported sightings of the hijacked van used in the attack were also not followed up.

The inquest also heard that the RUC failed to trace or question several eyewitnesses who came across the scene in the aftermath of the attack.

Speaking outside court, Colin Wharton – who lost his brother in the Kingsmills attack – criticised the RUC investigation, describimg the failures as “staggering”.