Northern Ireland

Simon Coveney seeks to provide assurances to Kingsmills families

The victims
Image caption Ten workmen were killed in the 1976 atrocity

The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs has said he wants to "reassure" the families of victims of the Kingsmills massacre.

He said it was his understanding that the Irish government had handed over all the documents in connection with the case to the Coroner's office.

Ten Protestant workmen were killed at Kingsmills when their minibus was ambushed in the south Armagh village in January 1976.

An ongoing inquest into the IRA murders is due to resume in September.

Simon Coveney was speaking before meeting a delegation of victims' families and DUP leader Arlene Foster in an Armagh hotel on Tuesday.

He told the BBC the purpose of the meeting was a "listen to their concerns and hopefully provide them with reassurance that they have a real partner in the Irish government".

He said he was keen to assure families "no games were being played".

'New legislation'

Image caption "We are looking at passing new legislation in Ireland to allow Gardaí to give evidence in an Irish court in relation to an inquest in Northern Ireland," he said.

"This is really to reinforce the message that was given by the previous and current Taoiseach that the Irish government wants to help in any way we can, to try and bring some closure, if it's possible to do that through an inquest, by providing as much information as is available to us.

"What we are looking at now is passing new legislation in Ireland to allow Gardaí to give evidence in an Irish court in relation to an inquest in Northern Ireland which is very new.

"I'm not sure it's been done before," he said.

Mr Coveney also responded to criticism that the Garda Síochána had not supplied all the relevant documents.

"I've read some media reports suggesting there are files somewhere in Dublin that could be handed over and haven't been but it's my understanding that that's simply not true," he said.

"My understanding is that that the Garda Síochána (Irish police) have been in constant contact with the Coroner's office to ensure that we are responding to the ongoing inquest," he added.

Image caption After the meeting DUP leader Arlene Foster said families still believed there were more documents to be found

Speaking after the meeting, Arlene Foster said she would continue to work with Mr Coveney and the authorities to help "bring closure" to families.

However she said families still believed there were more documents to be found.

"He's saying at the moment he has disclosed all that he can," she told the BBC.

"We want to explore that to see how it is that only out of the 90 documents that were disclosed, 60 of which were newspaper cuttings, that there's only 30 pages of documents coming forward.

"Is it really credible to suggest that's all the documentation that was held?"

Image caption Beatrice Wharton, whose son Kenneth was among the victims was part of the delegation

Beatrice Wharton, whose son Kenneth was among the victims was part of the delegation.

"I was reassured with his words, but I want action. I'm coming 90 this September and I want to see something done," she told the BBC.

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