Northern Ireland news

Kingsmill families being played a record of false assurances by the southern authorities says lawyer

Eight of the 10 Kingsmills massacre victims. Top from left, Robert Chambers, John Bryans, Joseph Lemmon and James McWhirter. Bottom from left, Walter Chapman, John McConville, Kenneth Worton and Reggie Chapman
By Michael McHugh, Press Association

The Kingsmill families are being played a record of false assurances by the southern authorities, their barrister claimed.

Foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney has said all material on the killings had been handed over. He said he had met relatives of the dead last month in Armagh.

The main suspects in the IRA's shooting dead of 10 Protestant workmen in an ambush in south Armagh in January 1976 were living in the Republic, an officer told a previous inquest sitting.

Alan Kane QC likened the Republic's statements to: "A long-playing record that it would appear is constantly played for the benefit of the relations of the people who were murdered.

"The families certainly are of the view that this long-playing record of false assurances is being played because to date no product really has been forthcoming."

A van used by the gunmen was found abandoned across the border and a palm print was recovered from it, but a prosecution could not be mounted.

Mr Coveney said it was his understanding that the Dublin government had handed over all the documents in connection with the case to the coroner's office.

He was keen to assure families "no games were being played".

Coroner Brian Sherrard's representatives are due to meet the Garda and the Republic's legal authorities later this month as lawyers plan resumed hearings in November.

Mr Kane, barrister for some of the relatives, claimed nothing has been done of a substantial nature to advance "vain assurances" around disclosure of material.

Relatives have insisted much of what they have been given so far is newspaper clippings.

Their lawyer said legislation needed to be introduced allowing a Garda witness to contribute evidence to the inquest.

Mr Kane said: "It is time that the Irish Republic dealt with this matter in a serious fashion by actually coming up with the goods instead of constant assurances, having meetings and fudge."

The coroner has promised he will not close the inquest without receiving answers.

He suggested participants paused and took stock of progress so far.

"Matters are moving forward and I am satisfied on the basis of what I have heard that progress is being made.

"The one outstanding issue for me is with regard to making sure that the material that emanates from the Republic of Ireland is properly made available to the court and it seems to me that some progress is being made with regard to that."

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