Northern Ireland

Kingsmills: Families walk out of inquest over refusal to name IRA suspects

Families of Kingsmills' victims and sole survivor Alan Black (centre)
Image caption Alan Black, centre, said one suspect's name was known "all over Ireland"

Relatives of some of the Kingsmills victims and the sole survivor Alan Black have walked out of the inquest into the murders.

The walk-out was in protest over the refusal to name two IRA men suspected of involvement in the 1976 murders.

Ten Protestant men were shot dead in their work van near the County Armagh village and the murders have been blamed on the Provisional IRA.

Coroner Brian Sherrard said it was a "complicated" matter.

He said he would consider the arguments.

Image caption Ten workmen, aged from 19 to 58, were murdered by the IRA at Kingsmills in 1976

Speaking outside court, Mr Black said the families were frustrated.

Mr Black said it was a walk-out but not a walk away from the process, which began six years ago.

The families want the coroner to name two suspects, both believed to have been in the IRA and both now deceased.

'All over Ireland, they know his name'

Their lawyer argued the ciphers given to the two men should be lifted.

He referenced Tuesday night's BBC Spotlight programme, which named a deceased IRA man involved in the killings of three off-duty soldiers almost 50 years ago.

He said the ongoing use of ciphers was "causing distress" to the families and pointed to other inquests where dead suspects had been identified before the end of proceedings.

The coroner said he understood the ongoing use of ciphers may cause some anxiety and concern but this was "a complicated matter" and "anything but straightforward".

"This is not a simple matter of someone dying, and them being named," he said.

Image caption The victims were shot after IRA gunmen stopped their bus as they travelled home from work

He added there were public interest immunity issues and secret information which could harm the public.

But he said he would take note of the observations made and make a decision in due course.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Black said one suspect's name was known "all over Ireland".

"It's frustrating that the coroner won't name him," he said.

"Why not name him? We all know it. All over Ireland, they know his name now."

The 10 workmen were shot dead on 5 January 1976 after the gunmen stopped their van and asked which among them was a Catholic, and instructed that man to leave the scene.

No-one has ever been held to account for the murders but in recent years the Historical Enquiries Team identified the killers as the Provisional IRA.

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