Belfast Telegraph

Frazer calls on Varadkar to hand over Kingsmill files or face protest

DUP leader joins relatives for crunch meeting with Varadkar

By Suzanne Breen

The families of those killed in the Kingsmill massacre will meet the Taoiseach tomorrow to demand that his government immediately hands over security files on the IRA attack.

DUP leader Arlene Foster will accompany the relatives to the meeting where Leo Varadkar will be told that the failure to pass on the documents is hampering the inquest into the atrocity.

Victims' campaigner Willie Frazer claimed that Dublin had been promising the material for more than two years.

And he warned that if Mr Varadkar didn't act speedily, the Kingsmill families would hold a protest rally outside Leinster House next month.

The last attempt by relatives of IRA victims to march in Dublin led to serious rioting, which caused the Love Ulster demonstration to be abandoned in 2006.

The location for the Taoiseach's meeting with victims hasn't been confirmed but it is understood that it is most likely to be Armagh.

A DUP spokesman said: "Arlene Foster raised the Kingsmill issue with Leo Varadkar in her first discussions with him after he became Taoiseach and he readily agreed to meet the families.

"We are looking forward to Tuesday's meeting and we hope it results in progress regarding these documents."

Ten Protestant workers were ordered out of their minibus by IRA gunmen in 1976 and shot dead by the side of the road.

An inquest into their deaths, which began in May, is due to resume again next month after breaking for the summer.

Mr Frazer last night told the Belfast Telegraph: "The Kingsmill families feel very angry and frustrated over Dublin's repeated failure to hand over documents.

"The Irish government are only paying lip service to their pledge to do everything they could to help us. They haven't delivered anything worthwhile. We know they are sitting on material which is vital to the progress of the inquest.

"We have spoken to retired gardai who are disgusted that the documents haven't been given to us."

Mr Frazer said that Irish authorities had an array of material relating to the massacre.

"We know that they are in possession of evidence as to who hijacked the vehicle used in the attack," he stated.

"They also have intelligence documents about some of the suspects involved who were later arrested in the south with weapons used in Kingsmill and in other IRA murders in South Armagh."

The victims' campaigner accused Dublin of breaking promises to hand over the material twice in 2015 and again last year.

"We are hoping that there will be a different approach by the new Taoiseach and that he will fulfil pledges made by the previous administration," he said. "Leo Varadkar is just in the job and we are certainly up for giving him the opportunity to prove that it isn't just nationalist victims whom the southern government is concerned about.

"But this is the last chance Dublin is getting. We'll be taking no more excuses."

The Taoiseach's office couldn't be contacted for comment last night but earlier this month a spokesman said that the government was co-operating fully, in accordance with the law, with the Kingsmill inquest in order to provide answers for the victims' families.

A spokesman said: "In line with this commitment, significant evidential material has already been transferred by An Garda Síochana to the Northern Ireland coroner.

"The Irish authorities have continuously sought to cooperate with the coroner and his legal team as part of an ongoing legal process. 

"Every effort has been made to facilitate further cooperation in respect of the coroner's requests to An Garda Síochana and there have been numerous meetings with the coroner's legal team over the last year. The Coroner's most recent request of April 13, 2017 was responded to comprehensively on June 1, 2017. The Irish government and the Garda authorities remain keen to assist any further requests from the coroner in accordance with the law."

However, Mr Frazer claimed that "so far we have received only 90 pages of documents, around 60 of which are newspaper cuttings". He added: "Nationalist families regularly complain that the British drag their feet in releasing material to them about killings, well our experience with the Irish government is just the same."

The victims' campaigner said that a previous parade in Dublin in protest at the government's failure to hand over documents had been cancelled after pledges of speedy action were made.

"We won't be making the same mistake again," he warned.

"The Kingsmill families and those who stand with them will be marching if Dublin doesn't deliver."

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