Kingsmills families raise question of ‘police ineptitude on an epic scale’

Pacemaker Press 23/5/2016
Beatrice Worton (mother of Kenneth) attends  The long-awaited inquest into the Kingsmills massacre,  Which begins at Laganside Court in Belfast on Monday.
The inquest will examine the deaths of 10 Protestant workmen who were shot dead when an IRA gang ambushed their minibus near the County Armagh village in 1976.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 23/5/2016 Beatrice Worton (mother of Kenneth) attends The long-awaited inquest into the Kingsmills massacre, Which begins at Laganside Court in Belfast on Monday. The inquest will examine the deaths of 10 Protestant workmen who were shot dead when an IRA gang ambushed their minibus near the County Armagh village in 1976. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Neil Rafferty QC, acting for many of the Kingsmills families, yesterday said they had been left with “anger and disbelief” at revelations of the palm print breakthrough.

He told the inquest they are now “in a position where they simply have very little confidence if any in the PSNI”.

In fact the families he speaks for, he said, declined a meeting with police before Thursday’s inquest hearing, having decided: “No more tea and sympathy – we are entitled to answers.”

The public nature of the inquest is the only thing they have remaining confidence in, he said.

They firmly believe the inquest should proceed as planned and that the PSNI investigation should in no way interfere as they “have heard things like this before”.

The relatives “quite simply are astonished” that after a minimum of seven if not eight police inquiries over 40 years, the palm print was again looked at on the second day of the inquest and only then was an apparent match detected.

His clients want to know if this is “ineptitude on an epic scale”.

Mr Rafferty asked if the coroner or PSNI were applying to have the inquest adjourned.

Coroner Brian Sherrard said there were no applications but that he would have to decide if the inquest might prejudice the police investigation.

Mr Rafferty said that if the suspect is in another jurisdiction the PSNI investigation could impede the inquest “for years to come” while the suspect “continues to live beyond the reach of the PSNI”.

Fiona Doherty QC, acting for survivor Alan Black and the McConville family, said the news had caused cynicism and mistrust.

They had a frank exchange with PSNI DCS Cargin before the hearing where they “expressed their own anger” and that of many others, she said.

Her clients see the palm print as potentially positive.

They trust the coroner and are keen for the inquest to continue but would understand if it had to be adjourned.

However, in the 40 years since the massacre, “no police officer has ever come to their door to tell them what is happening” and it is critical that the families are kept well informed now, she added.

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