Leo Varadkar under fire from Kingsmills families

May Quinn, sister of Kingsmills victim Robert Walker, attends a roadside service in January at the scene of the shootings
May Quinn, sister of Kingsmills victim Robert Walker, attends a roadside service in January at the scene of the shootings

Campaigners for Kingsmills massacre victims have challenged Leo Varadkar on how he can demand an inquiry into Pat Finucane’s murder while Dublin has failed to supply files on the murder of their loved ones after five years of requests.

Ten Protestant workmen were murdered at Kingsmills by the IRA in 1976 as they drove home from work in south Armagh.

Last week the Supreme Court ruled that investigations into the murder of the Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane were not effective in establishing the facts around his 1989 murder by loyalists.

Then-prime minister David Cameron had given a public apology for state collusion in the murder, but the Finucane family has continued to press the government to hold a full public inquiry.

The Supreme Court also last week failed to recommend an inquiry saying his family had not shown that the refusal “was made in bad faith”.

However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pressed for a inquiry soon after, tweeting: “In the light of the judgment in the UK Supreme Court and the British government’s political commitments made in 2001, a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane must be established.”

Kingsmills campaigners were quick to take issue with his government’s failure to disclose any significant files to their inquest.

Four of the weapons and the suspected getaway vehicle were recovered in the Republic of Ireland, where the PSNI’s top three suspects served unrelated terms for terrorism.

The attack was also planned and executed from the south and suspects stayed there afterwards to escape arrest.

The Kingsmills inquest opened in 2016, and has all but finished hearing evidence. However, despite requests dating back to before 2015, the families say no significant Irish files have been released.

Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth was one of those murdered at Kingsmills, pressed the taoiseach for equal treatment to the Finucanes.

“It would seem that Mr Varadkar and other Irish politicians before him are only interested in nationalist/Irish republican murders, his remarks and that of his government are not based on equality,” he said.

“We call on Mr Varadkar to release all the Kingsmills files to our inquest.

“If there had have been equality in the past maybe we wouldn’t have seen republicans who carried out massacres and escaped over the Irish border, to one day return and murder again at will.”

The Irish government responded that “significant evidential material” has already been released to the coroner; however, Mr Worton said he is unaware of this.

Former Stormont minister Danny Kennedy said: “Rather than concentrating on Pat Finucane, Leo Varadkar would do well to honour commitments given by his predecessor by releasing full intelligence reports on the Kingsmills massacre.

He should also admit to the collusion between members of the Irish security forces and PIRA which resulted in the murder of many border unionists.”