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Dublin blocking closure for Kingsmill families: Arlene Foster

By David Young and Lesley-Anne McKeown

DUP leader Arlene Foster last night accused the Irish Government of "standing in the way of closure" for the families of the Kingsmill massacre.

The former First Minister spoke out as the Kingsmill families faced a further delay to the long-awaited inquest due to the failure of Dublin authorities to provide materials requested by the coroner, Judge Brian Sherrard.

Mrs Foster said she would be raising what she described as "one of the most brutal and cold-blooded atrocities of the Troubles" with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

"I will be writing to the Irish Prime Minister to voice my support for the innocent victims of Kingsmill," she said last night.

"I am disappointed that the Irish Government is now standing in the way of closure for these families, who have already suffered so much.

"I have previously raised this with the Irish Prime Minister and sought to advance the matter.

"Whilst I accept the handover of documents between two jurisdictions raises legislative problems, a voluntary solution would address the matter.

"I trust Prime Minister Kenny will be able to encourage a positive response from his government.

"This has dragged on long enough."

The former First Minister's stinging remarks came just hours after relatives of some of those killed in the IRA atrocity threatened to pull out of the inquest if authorities in the Republic did not co-operate.

Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth was among 10 textile workers gunned down during the roadside ambush, said he would not be satisfied until there was full disclosure.

"The Dublin Government have to step up and give all that they have because we know they have information on the killings, so why not pass it over?" he asked.

"We need to have the complete disclosure because we will not be happy until we have it.

"There is only one option - get the full disclosure from the South or else.

"Otherwise, it's just a partial inquest."

Mr Worton was speaking after concerns about delays in the delivery of documentation from An Garda Siochana were raised during a preliminary hearing at Belfast's Laganside Court.

Alan Kane QC said: "Justice would be denied to them (the families) if the inquest were to be completed (without) adequate disclosure of materials by the authorities in Dublin."

The factory workers were travelling home from their jobs when their minibus was ambushed in January 1976.

They were asked their religion then lined up on a country road and shot dead in a sectarian attack blamed on the IRA.

Only one man, Alan Black, survived, despite being shot 18 times.

Victims' relatives are seeking details from the Garda about the weapons used, intelligence and the getaway van employed by the gunmen.

However, Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan cannot direct an officer to give evidence to the inquest without new legislation.

The court was told that a letter outlining areas of concern was sent earlier this month, and that Sean Doran QC, counsel for the coroner, has met with Irish officials to discuss the case.

Judge Sherrard said the material from Garda was of "central importance" and he could not contemplate closure until all avenues had been explored.

"I am mindful of the need to ensure that the totality of the information that is being sought is provided," he added.

"This matter will not be closed until I am satisfied we have taken the appropriate steps."

The court also heard that the families are to be given a document detailing the history of the weapons used in the notorious atrocity.

The paper, prepared by the PSNI, will detail any links with other IRA attacks.

The inquest, which was stalled to allow police to investigate a partial palm print found on a van believed to have been used by the gunmen, is expected to resume next month.

Judge Sherrard said he was content to proceed, but cautioned that witnesses could be recalled if the Garda information threw up new leads.

"We will keep pushing with regard to this," he added.

Victims' campaigner Willie Frazer, who accompanied some of the families to court, said: "The Irish Government has got a lot of information. They should hand it over."

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin was contacted for a response last night, but no one was available.

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