Ballymurphy: 10 people shot dead were innocent, inquest finds

James Marshall
May 12, 2021

She found that nine out of 10 were shot by the British army, and in the majority of cases, the force used was "disproportionate".

The British Army was found responsible for nine of the deaths of 10 people in Ballymurphy in August 1971, including a mother-of-eight and a Catholic priest, following fresh inquests.

The prime minister has "apologised unreservedly" for the "events that took place in Ballymurphy" in 1971, Downing Street has said.

"The Prime Minister spoke to the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill, this afternoon", a spokesman for Johnson said this evening.

"There are many empty chairs right across Northern Ireland as a result of terrorism and I think those people deserve justice and truth just as the Ballymurphy families did".

Though she acknowledged the times were chaotic, Keegan ruled that none of the victims had been engaged in paramilitary activity at the time they were shot.

He said the findings will come as an "immense relief and vindication for the families who have maintained for decades that their loved ones were innocent and their killings unjustified". "From my point of view, when my grandkids go and do any research about their family tree, they will see my daddy as a hero, not a gunman".

"The prime minister restated the government's intention to deliver a way forward in Northern Ireland that focuses on reconciliation, delivers for victims of the Troubles and ends the cycle of reinvestigations".

The inquest was ordered in 2011 following a campaign by the victims' families.

Labour shadow secretary of state Louise Haigh described the inquest findings as "clear and irrefutable".

"He was an innocent man who posed no threat", she said.

"Their deaths were without justification".

"This is a great day for the families and a great day for truth and justice", he said.

"One which must be learnt from".

"The apology was to third parties, it wasn't to the Ballymurphy families", he said.

Mrs Justice Keegan said he was an entirely innocent man but there was not enough evidence for her to determine where the shot that killed him came from, or whether it was sacked by the military or paramilitaries.

"For our families, we will totally oppose it", he said.

She said an apology by Johnson in the House of Commons would have "at least been a bit more respectful ... as if he is holding us in a wee bit of respect but to do it this way is trying to push it under the carpet".

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and Alliance Party leader Naomi Long urged the Government to "step up and formally apologise for the actions of the Army on the day in question".

He added: "Today they can stand proudly in the knowledge that their friends and family were entirely innocent of wrongdoing and the whole world knows it".

"I want to see a process that includes everybody", she said.

The Presbyterian Moderator, the Reverend Dr David Bruce, said the findings for the families are a "long-awaited public declaration of the innocence of their loved ones".

He said plans to announce the legislation on the same day as the inquest verdict were "very insensitive".

"For too many people across Northern Ireland, and indeed further afield, today would have brought back memories of loved ones whose lives were also cut short during what we casually call The Troubles".

Yesterday, a solicitor who represents the families of those killed at Ballymurphy said they had instigated civil proceedings against the UK's Ministry of Defence.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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