Garda Kingsmills information ‘raises more questions than answers’

The lack of information supplied by the Garda on those behind the Kingsmills massacre raises more questions than answers, a preliminary inquest into the murders has heard.

A lawyer acting for the victims of the atrocity expressed disappointment at how little information Irish police have supplied on the murders.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny during a trip to Northern Ireland to meet with Kingsmills Massacre family members

Taoiseach Enda Kenny during a trip to Northern Ireland to meet with Kingsmills Massacre family members

And he also pressed for Garda witnesses to attend the forthcoming inquest in order to clarify details on information they have supplied.

The IRA shot dead 10 Protestant textile workers by the side of a road near Bessbrook in 1976.

In a preliminary hearing for the inquest at Belfast Laganside Courts, barrister Richard Smyth, acting on behalf of some of the Kingsmills families, said the suspects behind the murders stole the van used in the attack from the south and left it there again afterwards when they fled there, and that weapons used in the attack were also found in the Republic.

One file on the murders handed over to the inquest by the Garda in September contained only newspaper clippings and public domain information, he said, while a second “thin” volume just handed over “raises more questions than it answers”.

And this was despite Taoiseach Enda Kenny meeting the families in Bessbrook in March to assure them that – despite a long delay in releasing any information – the southern authorities would give full and speedy cooperation.

The first file was handed over after a considerable delay – six months – following the Taoiseach’s assurances, Mr Smyth said, adding that “there now needs to be witnesses from An Garda Siochana to discuss the evidence they supplied”.

Mr Smyth said “everyone would agree” the file of Garda documents supplied was “a fairly thin volume”.

“The court had spent the first half of the day’s session discussing witnesses that legal representatives wanted to give evidence from the north side of the border,” he said.

“The Kingsmills families want to see a similar process adopted in relation to the Garda.”

Judge Brian Sherrard said there had been “very great cooperation from An Garda Síochána thus far”.

He agreed that Mr Smyth’s requests would be processed but said it was necessary to “manage expectations” on what could be achieved.

The court also heard that measures are being taken to allow the inquest to fully benefit from ongoing police ombudsman investigations into whether the attack could have been prevented and regarding the quality of the subsequent RUC investigation.

Meanwhile, Fiona Doherty QC asked Judge Sherrard to reconsider his decision not to allow the sole survivor of the attack – Alan Black – to have his own legal representative take a full part in proceedings.

She said she had found a precedent – and correspondence – from the Stalker-Sampson Inquiry. Mr Sherrard said he would be happy to consider her information.