Ballymurphy Inquest: UK government is 'truly sorry'

Joanna Estrada
May 13, 2021

Brandon Lewis said this also extended to the families for the "additional pain" they have had to endure and at how investigations were handled.

The victims' grief has been "compounded by the long and hard process of waiting for answers for so many years", Lewis said in a statement.

"There is no doubt that what happened on those terrible few days in Ballymurphy also fuelled further violence and escalation, particularly in the early years of the Troubles".

This evening, he said it was an "insult to the families" that Mr Johnson's apology came in a conversation with others and called on him to make a public apology.

Lewis' apology to the House of Commons today comes after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised for the killings that took place in Ballymurphy in Belfast in 1971 in a phone call to First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill.

I want to acknowledge the awful hurt that has been caused to the families of Francis Quinn, Father Hugh Mullan, Noel Phillips, Joan Connolly, Daniel Teggart, Joseph Murphy, Edward Doherty, John Laverty, Joseph Corr, and John McKerr.

The apology came a day after a coroner ruled that British soldiers used "clearly disproportionate" force against protesters in Ballymurphy, west Belfast, in 1971.

"It took the moment away", said John Teggart, whose father was killed in Ballymurphy.

Among the Ballymurphy victims were a priest who was trying to help the wounded, a mother-of-eight and a former soldier who had lost his hand in World War Two.

There was insufficient evidence to say whether the army was responsible for the death of one of the victims, John James McKerr.

"The families of those who were killed should never have had to experience the grief and trauma of that loss", Mr Lewis said. The conclusions of the Ballymurphy inquest, were deeply sad and the events of August 1971 were tragic, he added.

Judge Siobhan Keegan delivered her findings to applause from families of the victims shortly after the British government announced it would introduce legislation to give greater protection to former soldiers who served in Northern Ireland, plans Dublin and many in Belfast fiercely oppose.

"We want a path forward which will also pave the way for wider societal reconciliation for all communities, allowing all the people of Northern Ireland to focus on building a shared, stable, peaceful, and prosperous future".

Brandon Lewis has said the British Government is "truly sorry" for the events in Ballymurphy 50 years ago in which 10 innocent people were killed.

Irish nationalist leaders accused U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson of shielding retired British soldiers from justice and failing the families of those they killed a half-century ago.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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