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New eyewitness accounts of the shootings of 11 people by British soldiers in Northern Ireland have been submitted to the region’s Attorney General in a bid to get fresh inquests opened.
The statements form part of an extensive file of information related to the so-called Ballymurphy Massacre in west Belfast that has been compiled by the victims’ families. Archive testimony of the 1971 killings collected by the Catholic Church and full autopsy reports are also included in the submission to John Larkin QC.
The families are dissatisfied with the open verdicts delivered in the original inquests, held in the wake of the controversial shootings by British Paratroopers, and have asked Mr Larkin to establish new probes.
The call comes as the relatives continue to demand an independent international investigation into the events of August 1971, when the Army stormed the nationalist area after the Northern Ireland government introduced the contentious policy of internment without trial.
A Catholic priest and a mother-of-eight were among the 11 shot dead during a three day operation that was designed to round up suspected republican paramilitaries. The killings happened only months before soldiers from the Parachute Regiment shot dead 14 civil rights marchers in Londonderry in 1972.
Briege Voyle, whose mother Joan Connolly was killed in Ballymurphy, expressed hope that the file contained enough evidence to persuade Mr Larkin. She said: “Some of this was available at the time of our loved ones’ murders and was not considered or investigated.
“The families for over the last 20 years have collected information from eyewitnesses to the massacre along with full autopsy reports that were previously withheld from the families, and hope that the Attorney General may open the inquest into the death of our loved ones and consider investigating the circumstances around their murder and conclude that they were brutally murdered.”
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the appointment of the region’s first Attorney General in 38 years – Mr Larkin took up post this year following the devolution of policing and justice powers to Stormont – had enabled the legal bid.
“The families have spent years carrying out their own inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their loved ones,” said Mr Adams. “They believe that not all of the facts pertaining to the shootings were made known or that the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) or British Army’s Military Police properly investigated the killings.”
A spokesman for Mr Larkin confirmed the submission had been received and said the Attorney General would now take time to review it.
Briege Voyle speaking on International Women’s Day as guest of Coventry Trades Union Council
Photo: Troops Out Movement.
What Can We Do to Support the Ballymurphy Families?
Distribute this information as widely as possible – in Trade Unions, Political Parties, Community Groups, friends & colleagues. Detailed leaflets about the massacre are available from the address below.
Write to David Cameron, Owen Paterson and your own MP to demand a full Independent, International, Investigation into the Ballymurphy killings – and encourage others to do so.
David Cameron, 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA email:email@example.com or on Form at https://email.number10.gov.uk/Contact.aspx
Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Office 11 Millbank, London SW1P 4PN Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in form at http://www.nio.gov.uk/index/contact-us/enquiry-form.htm
Your own MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA www.writetothem.com