Brother of Kingsmill victim welcomes new Irish law to help inquest

Alan Black who survived the Kingsmill massacre
Alan Black who survived the Kingsmill massacre

The brother of one of the 10 men shot dead in the Kingsmill massacre has given a cautious welcome to an announcement that the Irish Government will introduce a new law to assist legacy inquests in Northern Ireland.

The Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Bill was one of a raft of laws announced by Irish Government chief whip Joe McHugh as he set out the legislative programme for autumn/winter 2018.

It will allow Irish police to give evidence to inquests in Northern Ireland.

Members of the Gardai are currently legally prevented from giving evidence in Northern Irish courts.

Mr McHugh said the legislation will help relatives of victims in their search for the truth.

"I would have met a lot of groups from the north in my time as chair of the Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, and I was always conscious of the need for enhanced cooperation on a cross-border basis," Mr McHugh told the Press Association.

"This legislation will help to move the process forward for relatives of victims who are looking for justice, truth and closure."

Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth was one of the 10 Protestant workmen killed by the Provisional IRA at Kingsmill in 1976, said: "I would cautiously welcome this announcement, as anything that comes from the Irish Government should be welcomed, but it is late in coming.

"Hopefully we do get more cooperation from the south, we think they will have to more to give to the inquest. But we will see whenever it is implemented."

The shootings at Kingsmill took place in Northern Ireland, but it is believed the killers fled across the border afterwards.

A van believed to have been used as a getaway vehicle was recovered by the Garda and there was a cross-border police investigation.

The victim's families have claimed there was an "intransigent attitude" from the Republic's authorities when it came to providing evidence.

The new law is expected to be passed by next spring.

The textile workers were shot when their minibus was ambushed outside the village of Kingsmill on their way home from work.

Those on board were asked their religion, and the only Catholic was ordered to run away.

The killers, who had hidden in hedges, forced the 11 remaining men to line up outside the van before opening fire.

Alan Black was the sole survivor.

No-one has ever been convicted of the murders, which have been widely blamed on the IRA, even though the organisation never admitted responsibility.

The Kingsmill inquest opened in May 2016. Proceedings were delayed shortly afterwards when a palm print found inside the van suspected of being the getaway vehicle was positively matched.

The inquest resumed sittings in 2017 and there have been more than 30 sessions.