Exclusive: Palm print on Kingsmill getaway van belongs to Colm Murphy

A palm print found on a getaway van used by the Kingsmill killers belongs to Co Louth republican Colm Murphy. Picture by Mal McCann.

A PALM print found on a van linked to the Kingsmill atrocity belongs to veteran republican Colm Murphy, the Irish News can reveal.

But in an exclusive interview, the man found liable for the Omagh bombing has questioned the timing of the announcement, claiming an inquest into the killings was being "sabotaged" to save "uncomfortable truths" emerging that could potentially threaten the peace process.

The Co Louth republican said he has been arrested dozens of times since the IRA shot dead 10 Protestant workmen in south Armagh in 1976 but wasn't charged with any offence connected to the attack at the time.

"The HET (Historical Enquiries Team) never even approached me when they were investigating Kingsmill and yet this is meant to have been known all these years," he said.

"I've been arrested about 30-plus times since 1976, I've been in jail a few times as well. My fingerprints must have been taken upwards of 40 times, but we're meant to believe this only flagged up now?

"You have to ask yourself why now and why my name?

"If they had my print or even a hint that I was involved why didn't they use that against me during the other trial."

Charged with conspiring to cause the 1998 Omagh attack after being accused of supplying mobile phones to the bombers, the 63-year-old became the only person to be convicted of the Real IRA atrocity - although that was later overturned on appeal.

He was also found liable along with other men in a civil case taken by relatives of victims.

"Even if I wasn't convicted they could have introduced that as 'bad character' (evidence) - why didn't they," he said.

Security briefing paper

A security briefing paper seen by the Irish News names up to 11 people the RUC at the time believed may have been involved in the Kingsmill attack.

While several were republicans from the Bessbrook area who were on the run in the Republic, Murphy's name does not appear.

A number of other names are Catholic families from the area who had no involvement with the IRA.

It suggests that in the immediate aftermath of the atrocity the RUC were struggling to find intelligence on the IRA unit responsible or were being fed false information.

While Murphy admits he was arrested and questioned at the time before being released without charge, the building contractor claimed his arrest was part of a round-up of republicans in the area.

"Anyone considered republican was arrested and questioned about it at the time, but it seems obvious from the names being thrown about they'd no idea who was involved.

"What I will say is that a few years back when the IRA first admitted they'd been involved was when my name started getting mentioned.

"Now it's no secret I'm no fan of Sinn Féin political direction on many things, so ask yourself why me and why now?

"There are many uncomfortable truths about that time and I'm not saying that in a judgmental way, they were very different times than where we are now, but there are things that could come out in that inquest that would be very embarrassing for people who would now be considered close to Sinn Féin. People who are still alive today.

"Sure isn't it easier to deflect it away to places that minimise the embarrassment.

"This mysterious palm print on a van, I believe is intended to scupper the inquest because it's damaging to the peace process to let it go ahead.

"I don't believe any solid evidence exists to link me to that attack - if there was it would have come out long before now."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 to get full access