THE Taoiseach appears to be creating a “hierarchy of victims” by pressing for a public inquiry into Pat Finucane’s murder while failing to meet relatives of the Kingsmills massacre, it was claimed last night.
Enda Kenny was giving the Chancellor’s Lecture at the University of Ulster in Belfast, in which he said British and Irish relations have never been stronger. But he said the governments still disagree on the calls for a public inquiry into the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane.
Mr Finucane was shot by loyalist paramilitaries at his north Belfast home in 1989, but the Government has apologised after security forces were exposed as having colluded in the killing.
Mr Kenny said last night: “Prime Minister David Cameron and I signed a joint statement on intensifying British-Irish relations for the next decade.
“This important initiative recognises that British-Irish relations have never been stronger. The state visit of Her Majesty The Queen last year served as a symbol of a modern, deep and friendly relationship. It was the birth of a new phase in the relationship between our islands.”
But he added: “While working closely with my British counterpart, there are matters on which we share a difference of opinion. Late last year, I had the privilege of presenting Geraldine Finucane with a Person of the Year Award in Belfast and I want to say once again how much I respect and admire the way she has campaigned for over 22 years, with great dignity and courage, and I support her in her campaign for a full public inquiry.”
However Ulster Unionist peer Lord Empey said last night he was “very disappointed Mr Kenny is persisting with this”.
Despite the UUP pressing the Taoiseach to meet the Kingsmills families for 11 months, Mr Kenney has not yet confirmed a date on which he will see them.
Ten Protestant workmen were slain by the IRA at Kingsmills in south Armagh in 1976. The PSNI Historical Enquiries Team found that key suspects benefited from safe haven across the border after the murders. Nobody has ever been charged.
“Mr Kenny has still to confirm a date when he will meet the Kingsmills families,” Lord Empey added. “The murder of Pat Finucane was outrageous and is the subject of a substantial investigation which is due to report in December.
“But what is unique about the Finucane murder when compared to the Kingsmills, Omagh, Teebane or Tullyvallen atrocities, none of which are currently due to be examined by public inquiry?”
He said it appeared the Taoiseach’s conduct was creating a “hierarchy of victims” from the Troubles.
His party colleague executive minister Danny Kennedy, who has been pressing for a meeting with Mr Kenney and the Kingsmills families for 11 months, said the Taoiseach has agreed in principle to meet them but has not given a date.
“The families are angry and frustrated,” the UUP MLA said. “They feel like they are being treated as second class citizens.”
Victims campaigner Willie Frazer, who is working closely with the Kingsmills families, said he had recently called off discussions with senior Garda at the last minute because he was assured the Taoiseach would meet the families.
“I was meeting the Garda to organise a fresh victims’ parade in Dublin,” he said. “When I heard Enda Kennedy had agreed to meet the Kingsmills families we did not go through with the meeting. But now that we hear he has failed to confirm a date we feel very angry.”
Colin Worton, whose elder brother Kenneth was murdered at Kingsmills, agreed.
“The Taoiseach should be even handed and meet victims from our side of the community too,” he said. “Only meeting one side of the community is not really on”.