Coroner ‘aspires’ to hold Kingsmill killings inquests before next summer

Image of Kingsmills memorial wall, at spot where men were murdered
Image of Kingsmills memorial wall, at spot where men were murdered
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An inquest into the Kingsmill killings should be held by next summer, a coroner has said.

The IRA shot 10 Protestant workmen dead in south Armagh in 1976 after checking what religion they were. Another survived his injuries.

Coroner Brian Sherrard said lawyers had dealt with legal matters ahead of a full hearing in “model” fashion.

He anticipated the inquest taking four or five weeks.

He told a Belfast court: “It would be my aspiration to deal with this matter between Easter and the summer.

“Looking at progress made to date it gives me some cause for confidence that that is potentially achievable.”

Sean Doran QC, counsel for the coroner, said disclosure of material by police both sides of the border was going at a steady pace.

A large body of sensitive material had been obtained and considered by lawyers for the coroner, Mr Doran said.

It was being prepared for national security screening and restrictions imposed by Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers, he added.

He said material from the Garda was ready to be disclosed to legal representatives of the dead while “core” PSNI and HET files had been released.

The coroner observed: “It seems to me that the matter is moving on apace.”

Mr Doran said work was being done to investigate the killers’ guns.

“The weapons used at Kingsmill have been shown through ballistics analysis to have been used in other incidents prior and subsequently to Kingsmill,” he said.

“There are multiple references to the general issue throughout the papers.”

The textile factory workers were travelling along the Whitecross to Bessbrook Road in rural south Armagh on January 5 1976.

The only Catholic in the minibus was ordered to leave the area, while 11 of his Protestant work colleagues were shot.