THE families of 10 Protestants murdered in an IRA attack from the Republic have been promised a meeting by the Taoiseach after a year-long campaign.
In 1976 the IRA gunned down the 10 workmen by the side of the road at Kingsmills in south Armagh. The attack was planned and executed from the Republic and the killers sought safe haven there afterwards.
Stormont Minister Danny Kennedy said that he had approached Taoiseach Enda Kenny about the matter at a north-south ministerial meeting in Dublin yesterday, having also approached him about it in November.
“He agreed that as a means of progress we would have a meeting with a senior official in preparation for a meeting with Mr Kenny himself,” the senior UUP Assembly member said.
The Newry and Armagh representative was pleased “at long last” to have got an agreement to the meeting, having pursued the Irish prime minister for over a year with no success. He praised Mr Kenny’s “positive approach” to the issue yesterday, adding that the families and Taoiseach would likely meet “before the end of the summer”.
The Taoiseach has caused intense anger among unionists over the past year by repeatedly calling for an inquiry into the murder of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane while avoiding any commitment on the Kingsmills families.
Mr Kennedy said the aim of meeting the Taoiseach was to seek “public recognition” for the “failure” of successive Irish governments since 1976 to “deal” with countless IRA attacks made from the Republic.
Fermanagh and Tyrone DUP MLA Arlene Foster welcomed the progress, adding that IRA victims from Fermanagh are also expected to meet the Taoiseach as part of the process.
“It is important that the role of the IRA in these types of border attacks is highlighted so that we do not just have a partial history of the Troubles,” she said.
Pastor Barrie Halliday, who is supporting the Kingsmills families, said they had been asking Dublin to facilitate a victims’ parade there to highlight their cause.
“The Finucane family don’t have to parade in London for recognition there,” he said. “So it appears Dublin is playing catch-up in giving equality to the Kingsmills families.”