Ballymurphy families demand inquiry

The bereaved families of 10 people shot dead by British soldiers have appealed to Taoiseach Enda Kenny to support their calls for an independent investigation.

Relatives of those killed in the Ballymurphy shootings in west Belfast 40 years ago submitted a letter of petition to the Department of the Taoiseach.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was at the Dáil to support campaigners – who have also sent letters to Downing Street and Stormont to coincide with Human Rights Week.

Briege Voyle, who was 14 when her mother Joan Connolly was killed, said the families were calling for no more than what they were entitled to.

“We don’t want an inquiry that goes on and costs thousands of pounds,” said Mrs Voyle.

“All we want is the truth and an investigation is the only thing that’s going to give us the truth.

“The law states that everyone is entitled to an investigation, especially in a killing.

“Our loved ones were murdered, so we’re only asking for what we’re entitled to.”

Mrs Voyle said while an investigation would not change the past, it might prove those killed in August 1971 by the Parachute Regiment were innocent.

Mrs Connolly, a mother-of-eight, was shot in the face while she tried to help another victim and the parish priest Father Hugh Mullan.

An eleventh person died from a heart attack after being threatened by the troops during what has come to be known as the Ballymurphy Massacre.

Families want an investigation similar to the Saville Inquiry to prove the victims were not paramilitaries and were unlawfully killed.

The Savile Inquiry condemned the Bloody Sunday shootings of 14 people in Derry, which were carried out five months after the Ballymurphy Massacre by the same regiment.

It declared the killings were unjustified and prompted the British government to issue an apology.

Northern Ireland’s Attorney General John Larkin wrote to the Ballymurphy families last month confirming inquests into the deaths would be reopened.

Campaigners believe that had a criminal investigation been carried out and the Parachute Regiment held to account, Bloody Sunday could have been prevented.

Mr Adams said: “This is a very open case. These 11 people were killed in crossfire.

“The regiment went on to kill people in Bloody Sunday. And they went back into west Belfast and killed more people in Springhill, on the Shankill Road and across Belfast during the summer of 1972.”

No date has been fixed for a meeting with the Taoiseach, but Mr Adams said he had received assurances that Mr Kenny was committed to it.

He is also hopeful they will receive cross-party support as representatives of Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil attended the event.

“The Government indicated its support for the Ballymurphy families and the Taoiseach has agreed to meet with them,” said Mr Adams.

“I’ve accompanied them on a number of meetings with the British Government and they’ve been totally unsatisfactory.”

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