Kingsmills inquest: Yet more criticism over pace of progress

Kingsmills Massacre survivor Alan Black and and former Stormont minister, now victims campaigner, Danny Kennedy, expressed serious frustration with the legacy inquest into the murders.
Kingsmills Massacre survivor Alan Black and and former Stormont minister, now victims campaigner, Danny Kennedy, expressed serious frustration with the legacy inquest into the murders.

A former deputy Assembly speaker and Stormont minister has heavily criticised progress in the legacy inquest into the Kingsmills Massacre.

Former UUP MLA Danny Kennedy, now a victims campaigner, was speaking in Belfast on Friday after the latest hearing of the legacy inquest into the murder of 10 Protestant civilians by the IRA near Kingsmills in south Armagh in 1976.

In Friday’s hearing lawyers for the families made a detailed submission expressing dissatisfaction that “matters have reached the stage where it is suggested the identities of the deceased members of the IRA should be withheld, not only from them but the public”.

The submission detailed four recent inquests which had named dead suspects: that of Roseanne Mallon in 2013 (which named LVF leader Billy Wright), as well as inquests for Danny McColgan in 2015, Manus Derry in 2016, and Harry Thornton in 2017.

However coroner Brian Sherrard and his counsel Sean Doran QC expressed concern that naming the two deceased IRA suspects could endanger those close to them, saying that further consideration is needed.

But speaking afterwards Mr Kennedy insisted that they saw “no reason” why the two dead suspects – who both have extensive public IRA backgrounds – should not be named.

“We have seen it as precedents in other cases,” he told the News Letter.

“But we will continue to press our argument. We will return when this inquest next sits. And we will make determined efforts to establish truth and justice.”

In 2015 Taoiseach Enda Kenny promised Mr Kennedy and the families full disclosure of all Garda files relating to the suspects.

Yesterday Mr Kennedy said the families have three outstanding concern: one was the inability to name the suspects, another was the “very thin volume of evidence” provided by the Garda so far, and another was the “lack of progress” by Dublin in enacting legislation to allow NI coroners to take evidence in the south.

Sole survivor Alan Black said the families have been pressing for IRA suspects to be named since the inquest opened in 2015.

“There seems to be a collective will to put this inquest into the long grass... You know it is taking its toll,” he said.

“I am 75 now. I mean, are they going to wait until I die?”