Published Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Last week UTV revealed an investigation by the HET found the IRA, who claimed to be on ceasefire at the time, was behind what is one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles under the cover name of the South Armagh Republican Action Force.
The men were shot dead on their way home from work in the south Armagh village after being ambushed by 11 gunmen on 5 January 1976.
They were forced at gunpoint to reveal their religion. They were lined up, flasks and lunchboxes still in their hands, and shot dead. One man hit 18 times survived.
The report found the weapons used by the gunmen could be linked to up to 100 other killings, included the murders of RUC Chief Superintendent Harold Breen and Superintendent Raymond Buchanan in South Armagh in 1989.
The report said: "After the initial burst of heavy gunfire, it became apparent to the gunmen that some of the workmen may still be alive.
The intention to murder everyone was absolute. No one was to survive.
Historical Enquiries Team report
The report said the motive was sectarian with each man murdered because he was a Protestant. This was underlined by the fact that the only Catholic worker in the group, Richard Hughes, was allowed to get away.
It found earlier loyalist attacks on other families were the catalyst for the premeditated and calculated slaughter.
The report also lists flaws by the small 12-man RUC team that investigated the killings, detailing how they failed to trace and interview a number of potential witnesses.
The families of those murdered, who gathered at Bessbrook town hall for the official release of the 108-page report, are demanding a full inquiry into mistakes by the authorities.
The brother of one of the victims, Colin Worton, said: "Without a shadow of a doubt (the RUC and Government) didn't do enough... within the first year this should have been solved".
He said: "It's good to see it in print. There has been things overlooked and it doesn't give much satisfaction with the original investigation because there have been missed opportunities."
Karen Armstrong, whose brother John McConville was also shot dead, said: "For the first time in 35 years we've been given some acknowledgement and it's been highlighted that a lot of things didn't happen at the time regarding the investigation".
"After a short period of time the investigation stopped and our question is why in subsequent years why this wasn't picked up on. We are the only voice for the men who lost their lives that night. And if we don't try and get some answers then there is seriously something wrong as human beings".
It is believed the gunmen were all living in the Republic by December 1976.
In 2002, a key suspect was stopped at Heathrow. Despite still being on a wanted list, he was allowed to continue on his journey.
© UTV News