Belfast Telegraph

Families call for Ballymurphy probe

Families whose loved ones were killed by British troops on Bloody Sunday have backed calls for an investigation into similar deaths in Belfast.

The Catholic Church has already supported demands for an examination of the events of the Ballymurphy Massacre when 11 people in the west Belfast district were shot dead by troops from the Parachute Regiment in August 1971.

A Catholic priest was among those killed and campaigners will press their call for an independent investigation when they meet Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson next month.

Earlier this year the Government apologised for the conduct of Parachute Regiment troops after a damning inquiry into their conduct on Bloody Sunday when they killed 14 civil rights marchers in Londonderry in 1972.

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was killed in the Derry shootings, said: "The Ballymurphy massacre happened six months before Bloody Sunday. It and many other murders by the British Army around that time, helped set the precedent that British soldiers were immune from prosecution and knew that they could, would and did get away with murder.

"We have achieved some justice with the publication of the Saville Report, and we hope that the families here can get the same."

The Ballymurphy shootings took place over a three-day period when the Army entered the republican area after the Northern Ireland government introduced the controversial policy of internment without trial.

The policy was said to be aimed at rounding-up suspected paramilitaries, but its focus on nationalist areas and the arrest of large numbers of people uninvolved in violence served to heighten tensions.

Bereaved relatives met politicians at the Northern Ireland Assembly and while they said they did not expect an inquiry on the scale of the almost £200 million probe into Bloody Sunday, they said they wanted an independent investigation of events.

The families were supported by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, who said: "The families are campaigning for an independent international investigation into the circumstances of the 11 deaths and a statement of innocence and apology from the British Government."

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