Belfast Telegraph

Refusal to name deceased 'on-the-runs' blocking Kingsmill probe, claims Frazer

By Staff Reporter

Victims' campaigner Willie Frazer last night hit out at the Government's refusal to name deceased recipients of letters of comfort issued to on-the-runs (OTRs), claiming that the official secrecy was hampering the search for justice for victims of the Kingsmill massacre in which ten Protestant workmen were murdered.

Speaking after yesterday's sitting of the Kingsmill inquest in Belfast, Mr Frazer said: "The families implore the coroner to ensure that those IRA men with comfort letters who are now deceased but were suspects in this heinous crime are named, we will accept nothing less.

"We welcome the fact that officials will be brought to court to explain the OTR scheme, we must see full transparency, we have long said that OTR letters were a shameful abdication of responsibility to bring Provo murderers to justice."

But a UK Government spokesperson flatly rejected campaigners' calls to release the names of dead "on-the-runs".

"The Government will not release the names of those individuals who received letters under the on-the-runs scheme," the spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph.

Yesterday's inquest session heard that the Irish Government has published draft legislation which would allow police there to give evidence to inquests in Northern Ireland.

Members of the Garda are currently legally prevented from giving evidence in Northern Ireland courts.

The issue has been raised as a matter of concern in a number of historic inquests into killings from the Troubles, particularly those which occurred close to the border and may have resulted in cross-border movement of suspects or exchanges of police information at the time.

The draft Dublin legislation was welcomed by the Kingsmill Coroner, Brian Sherrard, who told a preliminary hearing of the inquest: "Obviously this is hot off the press and is a matter of some optimism for dealing with cross-border inquests in any event.

"Many bills never see the light of day of course and it's early days, but I certainly would commend the overall scheme."

He added: "It is worth reading and perhaps we can discuss the details at a later date."

Mr Frazer also called on the Irish Government to make good on its promise to enable Garda officers to give evidence in Northern Ireland courts.

"The Irish Government cannot play political football with this legislation, it must be brought forward into law as soon as possible ... I ask them to show commitment and professionalism," the victim's campaigner said.

Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said last week: "This legislation will respond to the needs of coroners in Northern Ireland and Britain dealing with legacy cases to access testimony from An Garda Siochana where this is relevant to their inquests."

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