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Hand over Kingsmills massacre files, Peter Robinson challenges Irish Government

By Steven Alexander

Published 03/06/2015

Peter Robinson has challenged the Irish Government to hand over all Garda files relating to the Kingsmills massacre.

It comes after Belfast Coroner's Court heard how the ongoing failure by Irish police to disclose its files about the IRA massacre of 10 Protestant workmen in Co Armagh, despite a pledge from the Taoiseach, is bordering on disgraceful.

On Monday, lawyers for those bereaved at Kingsmills in 1976 heavily criticised officials in Dublin for not passing over the Garda documents more than two months after Enda Kenny publicly committed to the handover.

Yesterday First Minister Peter Robinson met the Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Robinson said: "The Kingsmills families deserve the truth about this horrific crime and, like all innocent victims, they deserve justice.

"While the inquest will only examine the circumstances of the atrocity and does not have the powers to arrest anyone, it is an important step towards closure for the families. Despite the inquest being announced in 2013 and set up in 2014, the coroner is still waiting on important documents from the Garda."

The Kingsmills families met Mr Kenny in March and expected the material to be handed over to Northern Ireland Senior Coroner John Leckey two weeks later.

Mr Kenny's pledge seemed to end months of uncertainty over whether the new inquest would be able to access the potentially crucial Garda papers. Then, a letter from the lawyers in Dublin who are handling the disclosure said "outstanding issues" still had to be resolved before a date for handover could be fixed.

Mr Robinson added: "I appreciate the Irish Foreign Minister meeting us about this issue, but I have left him in no doubt as to how unsatisfactorily I view the Garda's approach. There should be full co-operation with the coroner.

"It is time for answers regarding this hold-up and time for the documents to be released in the manner they were promised. I want to see the full co-operation of the Irish Government, as pledged in the Stormont House Agreement, with all inquiries. Anything less is unacceptable and will cause further hurt to victims."

Ulster Unionist minister Danny Kennedy said: "I will be making it very clear that the 'outstanding issues' that have been cited as the reason for delay must be resolved. The information must be made available to the coroner and the deadline for the next hearing of June 30 must not be missed.

"It is vital that the commitments given by the Taoiseach during his recent visit to Bessbrook at my invitation are honoured in full.

"After nearly 40 years of frustration it is the least the families and sole survivor Alan Black can expect. It would be totally unacceptable if the hopes and expectations of the families that were raised following the commitment given in Bessbrook were to be dashed. Senior politicians need to remember that they cannot play fast and loose with the emotions of victims."

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