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Kingsmill inquest won't be derailed by new document checks, coroner says

The resumption of a stalling inquest into the Kingsmill murders will not be derailed by a late bid to censor additional state papers, a coroner has vowed.

Brian Sherrard told relatives of some of those killed in the 1976 gun attack that the need to carry out a security vetting exercise on newly-presented documents would not disrupt his timetable.

The new inquest into the sectarian murder of ten Protestant workmen outside the south Armagh village of Kingsmill was dramatically halted last year to allow police to investigate a partial palm print found on a van believed to have been used by the gunmen.

With no prosecution resulting from the police probe, the coroner's proceedings are due to restart on May 15.

At a preliminary hearing in Belfast, which was attended by a number of relatives, Mr Sherrard revealed that a "small" number of papers had emerged that would likely require the scheduling of a further hearing to examine a state request for some of their contents to be redacted.

The coroner held a behind-closed-doors Public Interest Immunity hearing on other relevant documents on Thursday. He said that while another PII hearing would now be required, he insisted he was sticking to the new start date.

"This will not derail the inquest," he said.

Mr Sherrard said that throughout the PII process he was trying to ensure the inquest was as "transparent as it can be", notwithstanding the security issues raised by the state.

The textile workers were travelling home from their factory when their minibus was stopped by gunmen.

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

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

A controversy around Garda co-operation with the inquest was not raised during the public opening court exchanges ahead of the private PII hearing.

Relatives of some of those killed had threatened to pull out of the inquest process amid uncertainty over whether authorities in the Republic would participate.

The killers fled over the border after the attack.

Last week, the Irish government moved to dispel any suggestion that its co-operation would not be forthcoming.

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