Unionists react angrily to IRA ‘ethnic cleansing' border plan

Danny Kennedy, left, with UUP leader Mike Nesbitt at Stormont. Picture by Mal McCann 

UNIONISTS have reacted angrily to claims by veteran republican Colm Murphy that the IRA planned to drive unionists out of South Armagh if there been any retaliation for the Kingsmill atrocity.

The Irish News has revealed that the 63-year-old has been connected to a palm print on a van linked to the 1976 attack.

A re-opened inquest into the IRA murder of ten Protestant workmen was informed last week that a forensic expert had re-examined a palm print discovered on a van in Co Louth after the attack and linked it to a suspect which the Irish News revealed be the Co Louth republican.

The PSNI tried to prevent the Irish News from identifying Murphy and publishing an interview with the building contractor in which he claimed he was being made a 'scapegoat' to protect details from emerging that could embarrass Sinn Féin.

Murphy said he had been arrested more than 30 times since 1976, and his finger prints taken more than 40 times but was never linked to Kingsmill.

On Monday he told the Irish News that if there had been retaliation for Kingsmill the IRA commander in South Armagh had planned to attack the homes of high profile unionists living along the border in order to force Protestant families from the area.

He said that the plot was only called off when it was vetoed at army council level by the organisation's leadership in Belfast.

Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy said that many unionists "have long suspected that the systematic attacks on the Protestant community along the border were part of a co-ordinated campaign".

"The Irish News reports direct quotes from Colm Murphy that there was indeed a plan in place for the IRA to ‘ethnically cleanse’ south Armagh of Protestants by burning out high-profile border unionists and forcing the rest to flee.

"If that is indeed the line from the republican movement, not only is it clear that they were fighting a war, but they are now amenable for war crimes.

"It is also proof that the IRA campaign was not some noble liberation struggle, but rather was a squalid sectarian bloodlust", he added.

Traditional Unionist Party leader Jim Allister said his attempt to ask an assembly question about the latest Kingsmill palm print revelations were blocked by the speaker Robin Newton on Monday.

The TUV leader tweeted: "Mr Speaker has rejected my Urgent Oral Question on Kingsmill and palm print discovery. Plus ca change".

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