‘Long playing record of false assurances’ on Kingsmills

Willie Frazer with Family and Friends arrive at Laganside Court in May for the inquest into the Kingsmill Massacre, in which 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead as they travelled home from work together in 1976.
 Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Willie Frazer with Family and Friends arrive at Laganside Court in May for the inquest into the Kingsmill Massacre, in which 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead as they travelled home from work together in 1976. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Relatives of the Kingsmills victims are not convinced by the assurances of Simon Coveney that the Irish government is “not playing games” over supplying information to the inquiry into the 1976 atrocity.

At Friday’s preliminary hearing, questions were again raised about the failure of Irish authorities to co-operate with the coroner’s office.

QC Alan Kane said the Kingsmills families he represents are concerned “nothing has been done of a substantial nature to advance the vain assurances given” over the disclosure of material from the Irish Republic.

Speaking before a recent meeting with victims’ families and DUP leader Arlene Foster in Armagh, Irish minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Coveney said he wanted to give them “reassurance that they have a real partner in the Irish government”. He said he was keen to assure families “no games were being played”.

Commenting on that meeting Mr Kane said: “Families are certainly of the view that this long-playing record of false assurances is being played because to date no product really has been forthcoming.”

Mr Kane said previous preliminary inquiries had heard that Irish authorities were pursuing legislation to make witnesses available for the inquest.

He said: “If there was some outbreak of some disease affecting the lives of livestock in the Irish republic one can imagine that very quickly any legislation that is required would be rushed through.

“And yet here we’re dealing with historic legacy issues which are supposed to be to the forefront of the government of the Irish republic as part of its Good Friday commitment and we’re talking about the lives of people that were lost many years ago into which this inquest is actively and very properly and very efficiently trying to find the truth and yet we find that the legislation which they say is necessary is not being brought before the Dail.

“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, without fudge.”

At yesterday’s inquest Coroner Brian Sherrard said he believes that progress is being made with Irish authorities.

He said: “One outstanding issue is making sure the material that emanates from the Republic of Ireland is being made available to this court.

“I do believe some progress is being made on that. I believe very real progress will be made in September regarding this.”

The coroner’s representatives are due to meet the Irish state solicitor at the end of September.

Alan Kane, QC said an investigation into fingerprint errors in the Kingsmills case and other legacy cases has raised a “spectre of suspicion”.

He said it was of vital importance to find out the exact nature of the fingerprinting mistakes by an individual within the police so that concerns about motivation could be eliminated or acted upon accordingly.

During proceedings the inquest was also told that a report from 1975 – detailing the operations of a joint RUC and Garda technical panel set up to deal with terrorist activity on both sides of the border – could not be located.