Belfast Telegraph

Relatives of shooting victims to meet Northern Ireland Secretary

Families of 11 people killed by the Army six months before Bloody Sunday are to meet the Northern Ireland Secretary.

Owen Paterson will hold talks with relatives who also want an inquiry into the shooting dead of their loved ones by the parachute regiment in west Belfast.

It follows Lord Mark Saville's report into the Bloody Sunday killings in Londonderry.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said: "In Ballymurphy six months before Bloody Sunday, we have another striking example of the brutality with which the paras acted and how the British system then connived in a cover-up."

In the 36 hours after the introduction of internment without trial of suspected republicans in August 1971 11 people - ten men, including a local priest and a mother of eight children - were killed by the parachute regiment in the Ballymurphy area.

The Ballymurphy killings took place during the Army's Operation Demetrius, the arrest of those who would be interned on suspicion of involvement in paramilitary activity. The troops claimed they opened fire after being shot at by republicans.

Victims included Catholic priest Father Hugh Mullan and mother-of-eight Joan Connolly.

Mr Adams added: "The British government in acknowledging the wrong done in Derry must acknowledge the wrong done in Ballymurphy and elsewhere and to these families. It must make a public apology for what it and its armed forces did."

Government sources indicated a meeting would go ahead.

Meanwhile, solicitors representing the families bereaved by Bloody Sunday said it would take weeks to read the report and consider legal options available.

"We will want to make representations to the Public Prosecution Service on behalf of our clients in relation to prosecutions and indeed have written to the Public Prosecution Service and advised that we will be making those representations in due course," they added.

"There are other legal processes to consider. We will consider these. As in the past, families will attempt to approach the legal options as a unified group, supporting each other in thoughtful debate."

They paid tribute to all the suffering.

"These families, and families like them, are the true human rights defenders and those suffering injustice anywhere should look to them for inspiration. Those suffering injustice anywhere should never give up the fight for truth."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph