Northern Ireland

Kingsmill massacre inquest: Irish police accused of 'dragging their feet'

Jim Allister
Image caption Jim Allister wrote to the Irish Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

Police in the Republic of Ireland have been accused of "dragging their feet" in providing documentation to an inquest into the deaths of 10 Protestant workmen murdered by the IRA.

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister made the comments after receiving a letter from the Irish justice minister.

He wrote to Frances Fitzgerald seeking the reason for a delay in providing material to the inquest.

It relates to the Kingsmill massacre.

On 5 January 1976, the 10 textile workers were travelling home on a minibus in the heart of rural County Armagh, when they were murdered.

Mr Allister said that in October he wrote to Ms Fitzgerald protesting at the delay in Irish police "dealing with this vital matter".

He said he had now received a reply that "indicates little action".

"Yes, it contains platitudes and soothing assurances, but, patently, nothing of substance has been provided or resolved," he said.

"So, much for all the hot air at Stormont House about full disclosure in historic cases. Dublin is still dragging its feet."

In his letter to Ms Fitzgerald, Mr Allister said there had been an "unacceptable delay" that was "causing needless grief to families which have waited decades to reach this stage".

He said he was writing to ensure the "documentation is furnished forthwith".

'Complex'

In her reply to Mr Allister, Ms Fitzgerald said the Northern Ireland Senior Coroner John Leckey had contacted gardaĆ­ to seek access to material in their investigation files that might be relevant to the inquest.

"You will, of course, appreciate from your professional experience that the context in which a request for documentation is made by a coroner in one jurisdiction to the police service in another jurisdiction, such as in this case, raises specific and complex legal issues with regard to disclosure, particularly when the documentation may form part of an open criminal investigation, may be security sensitive and may contain personal information," she said.

She added that gardaĆ­ "must be guided by their legal advice in respect to the issues arising".

She said police in the Republic of Ireland had met with the Northern Ireland Coroner's counsel and solicitor and were in discussions with them as to the legal issues arising.

Ms Fitzgerald said they were "jointly exploring" ways in which they could support the work of the coroner in the case to the "fullest extent" compatible with the relevant legal requirements.

"I know you will appreciate that any such process must be in accordance with the law in both jurisdictions and will join with me in the hope that the current discussions bring about a resolution which will be acceptable to all parties," she added.

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