Kingsmills massacre: Alan Black says state agents involved

Alan Black, survived despite being shot 18 times

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The lone survivor of an IRA massacre of ten Protestant workers believes state agents may have been involved, a coroner's court has heard.

On Monday, a solicitor for Alan Black made the claim at the preliminary hearing of a new inquest into the Kingsmills shootings.

The attack took place near the County Armagh village of Kingsmills in 1976.

The victims were all textile factory staff who were shot dead when an IRA gang ambushed their mini-bus.

Northern Ireland's senior coroner, John Leckey, told the court that the Kingsmills massacre was "one of the most horrific incidents in the so-called Troubles" and said he had been shocked by Mr Black's account of events.

He said: "I'm sure not only for Mr Black, but for the families (of the dead), the horror of what happened is still very much to the forefront of their minds."

A number of the victims' relatives attended the hearing in Belfast.

The decision to order fresh inquests was announced last August, by Northern Ireland's top law officer, Attorney General John Larkin.

It followed a campaign for justice, led by the victims' families and supported by Newry and Armagh Ulster Unionist MLA, Danny Kennedy.

"This is a significant moment in a long campaign for justice and tribute must be paid to all the families and campaigners who have been persistent in their lengthy battle for justice," he said.

"It has been 38 long years since the dreadful events of that terrible day took place. I am greatly encouraged by the determination of all the families and the only survivor Alan Black, to see maximum justice attained."

Murdered on way home

The textile workers were murdered as they travelling home from work together along the Whitecross to Bessbrook road in rural County Armagh.

Just after the van cleared the rise of a hill, there was a man standing in the road flashing a torch.

The van stopped and 11 other men, all armed, emerged from hedges around the road.

the bullet riddled minibus near Kingsmill in South Armagh in which 10 Protestant workmen were massacred The bullet-riddled minibus in which 10 Protestant workmen were massacred

A man asked their religions. There was only one Catholic left on the bus. He was identified and ordered away from his Protestant workmates and ran off.

The gunmen then opened fire.

The 10 men 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.

The court heard that Richard Hughes, the Catholic man who managed to escape the attack, has since died.

The IRA never admitted involvement and was supposed to be on ceasefire at the time.

The name South Armagh Republican Action Force was used to claim the murders.

In June 2011, an investigation by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) found that the IRA was responsible for the attack and that the victims were targeted because of their religion.

The HET is a specialist police team set up to re-examine 3,260 killings during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

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