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Ballymurphy victim and his widow buried in joint funeral

Couple who died on same day 45 years apart laid to rest after husband's exhumation

By David Young, PA

Published 26/08/2016

Relatives of Ballymurphy victim Joseph Murphy and his wife Mary say their last goodbyes as their coffins are carried into Corpus Christi church in Belfast
Relatives of Ballymurphy victim Joseph Murphy and his wife Mary say their last goodbyes as their coffins are carried into Corpus Christi church in Belfast
The funeral cortege makes its way to the church as mourners gather
The funeral cortege makes its way to the church as mourners gather
A young girl carries a picture of Joseph and Mary Murphy

A couple who died on the same day 45 years apart have been buried together after the widow passed away while her husband's remains lay in a morgue following exhumation.

Joseph Murphy, who was shot dead during the Troubles, was exhumed last year by order of a coroner investigating the disputed circumstances of the killing.

His widow, Mary (83), died on Monday after a battle with cancer as her husband's remains continued to lie in a Belfast morgue. The date of her death was the same date Mr Murphy died on in 1971.

He was one of 10 civilians shot dead by British soldiers in west Belfast in an incident known as the Ballymurphy massacre.

The victims, including a Catholic priest and a mother-of-eight, were killed during an Army operation that saw paratroopers storm republican strongholds to arrest IRA suspects following the introduction of internment without trial.

Mrs Murphy and her family had long campaigned for justice and requested the exhumation to get to the truth of claims that Mr Murphy was fired on a second time while in Army custody.

Before his death, Mr Murphy alleged that he was first shot in the upper thigh on the streets of Ballymurphy, after which, he claimed, soldiers took him to a nearby barracks and shot him again through his open wound.

A suspected bullet fragment was discovered among his remains after his exhumation. The findings will factor in a new inquest into the 10 deaths.

The coffins of Mr and Mrs Murphy were carried together into Corpus Christi church in Ballymurphy for Requiem Mass. Parish priest Darach Mac Giolla Cathain noted the extraordinary chain of events that led the couple to be reunited in the church.

"When Joseph's body was exhumed early on October 27, 2015, it was Mary's fervent desire that he have Mass offered for the happy repose of his soul before he was reburied," the priest explained.

"Little did she think that he would be buried 45 years to the day when he was first buried.

"More than that, that she would have the grace when she died that they would be side by side in church and be laid to rest together. God's timing is perfect."

After the service, the couple were buried in the family plot in the nearby Belfast City Cemetery.

In June, the son of another man shot during the Ballymurphy incident died. Joseph Corr Jr was the son of 43-year-old Joseph Corr Snr, who died from his injuries within days.

Earlier this week, victims of the Ballymurphy massacre met with Justice Minister Claire Sugden.

They want Stormont to move forward with a plan by Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan to deal with a backlog of inquests into some of the most controversial killings that took place during the Troubles.

The plan was put on hold after the Executive failed to agree a request for funding at its last meeting in March.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan wanted more than £10m to fund his proposal.

However, a proposal to ask Secretary of State Theresa Villiers to release the Government funding failed to even make the agenda of the Executive's last meeting in March.

First Minister Arlene Foster said that she "needed more discussion" around the idea before moving ahead.

Belfast Telegraph

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