Northern Ireland news

Kingsmill families say 'switch off the life support' on inquest

The bullet-riddled minibus at the scene of the massacre of 10 Protestant workman in a massacre at Kingsmill, Co Armagh, in January 1976.

FAMILIES of those murdered at Kingsmill, along with the sole survivor Alan Black, have called for the inquest into the IRA atrocity to be brought to an end.

Over five and a half years since the inquest opened, into the murder of ten Protestant workmen near the village of Whitecross in South Armagh in 1976, the families say the coroner should now "switch off the life support" and bring the inquest "to an expeditious conclusion".

In a detailed statement to The Irish News the families say that since February last year "no less than seven hearings have been cancelled or rescheduled, often with only a few days’ notice being given to families and the survivor Mr Alan Black".

They added that "apart from evidence provided in September last year by a PSNI investigating officer, tasked to investigate vital but consistently ignored circumstances about the murders, there has been a mere two hearings giving a total of only four days over this final 18 month period".

"These hearings are inconsequentially slotted into lunchtime periods, simply adding insult to injury and confirming the insignificance placed on the inquest in the course of the coroner’s daily work load.

"The inquest is, as far as we are concerned, currently in a deep sleep."

Analysis: A bruising process that delivered hurt not healing

The families said that they had been assured that the inquest would be "open and transparent" but evidence potentially damaging to the reputation of the state "is still cloaked in secrecy and denied to us".

"Why should such information be withheld from families whose loved ones were so brutally murdered during the innocent act of returning from a day’s work?

"What can so affect national security that caused Kingsmill never to be properly investigated?

Read More: Tributes paid to Kingsmill campaigner Bea Worton

"We have eliminated widespread RUC incompetency, resources and opportunity. What remains is the fact that the RUC did not employ traditional investigative techniques to deal with terrorist-related crime but resorted almost exclusively to the sinister use of informants, agents and collusion with the perpetrators.

"There is such an obscene imbalance between the need to protect the RUC Special Branch officers along with their agents and the application of the democratic administration of justice.

"This imbalance has the capacity to threaten democracy itself, especially at a time when the political institutions are so fragile and chaotic."

The families added that they believe the inquest has now run its course and said "it is perhaps time for the coroner to adopt a humane approach, switch off the life support and bring the Kingsmill inquest to an expeditious conclusion".

"It is time to put a stop to the infuriating quibbling and overprotective pussyfooting by state council. We know there is little intention to provide us with all the facts of the case.

"Unless the real circumstances and motives are to be revealed, if only to the families and Mr Black, it is pointless and even cruel to subject us to further suffering", they added.

A spokesperson for the coroner's office said: "The concerns in your email are matters which should properly be addressed to the coroner in court by the representatives for the families of the next of kin.

"The hearings are often listed at 1pm to facilitate the attendance of the next of kin and legal representatives who are involved in the Ballymurphy inquests and other matters.

" If this time is inconvenient, the legal representatives can contact the Coroners Service to seek to have it changed.

"The Coroners Service will provide as much notice as possible if a hearing date has to be changed due to unforeseen circumstances.

"In hearing the inquest, it is for the coroner to decide what matters need to be explored and that process is continuing."

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