Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Call for independent killings probe

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams with family members of those killed by Paratroopers arrive at Stormont for talks
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams with family members of those killed by Paratroopers arrive at Stormont for talks

Campaigners demanding a probe into the deaths of 11 people shot by soldiers during the Northern Ireland Troubles have said they were disappointed by talks held with Secretary of State Owen Paterson.

Bereaved relatives want an independent investigation into what has become known as the Ballymurphy Massacre, where members of the Parachute Regiment are accused of killing unarmed civilians, including a Catholic priest.

The allegations centre on a three-day security operation in west Belfast only months before soldiers shot dead 14 civil rights marchers in Londonderry in 1972.

The families from the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast have stopped short of demanding a probe along the lines of the costly Bloody Sunday Inquiry that led to an apology from Prime Minister David Cameron.

But they indicated they had failed to receive any commitment from Mr Paterson for an independent investigation, though the Secretary of State is to meet the families again in the new year.

"We are disappointed," said John Teggart, whose 44-year-old father Danny died after he was shot 14 times, leaving behind a family of 13 children. "But we are a strong campaign group. We will go forward and have a further meeting planned for the new year." He said relatives had used Thursday's meeting at Stormont in Belfast to recount how their loved ones were killed.

The Ballymurphy shootings took place in August 1971 when troops entered the republican area after the Northern Ireland government introduced the controversial policy of internment without trial.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and SDLP West Belfast representative Alex Attwood, a minister in the Northern Ireland power-sharing government, accompanied the families.

Mr Adams said he was not pleased with the meeting and claimed Mr Paterson showed no affinity with the families' plight.

"The case the family make is compelling," he said. "The British Secretary of State has an opportunity to define his role in a positive way. He has an opportunity to liberate these families and many others by making the right decision. The families are determined to pursue their campaign for truth and an acknowledgement of the innocence of their loved ones."

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