Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach Enda Kenny gives backing to Ballymurphy families

By Joanne Sweeney

The sense of injustice held by the families of those killed in a British Army operation in west Belfast in 1971 needs to be dealt with, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

Mr Kenny voiced support for the Ballymurphy families' campaign for justice as he visited the scene of the shootings yesterday.

"For me this is as raw as it can be," he said of the families' feelings.

"There is a sense of injustice amongst this community and that needs to be dealt with."

Ten people died after being shot by soldiers, among them a Catholic priest and a mother-of-eight, over three days of gunfire in August 1971. Another man died of a heart attack following an alleged violent confrontation with the troops.

Last year the British Government rejected an independent re-examination of the 1971 shootings.

A fresh inquest is being held into the 10 deaths caused by gunfire but relatives are unhappy at the length of time state organisations are taking to disclose files to the coroner's court.

Mr Kenny met families and toured an area of Ballymurphy where four of the victims were shot.

"I am very happy to come here to Ballymurphy to meet the community first-hand and have the privilege to leave some flowers," he said.

The shootings took place as the British Army moved into republican strongholds in west Belfast to arrest IRA suspects in the wake of the introduction by the Stormont administration of the controversial policy of internment without trial. Soldiers claimed they had come under attack and returned fire.

But relatives have demanded an acknowledgement that their loved ones were wrongfully killed.

In 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the actions of the paratroopers on Bloody Sunday after a long-running public inquiry by Lord Saville found the shootings had been unjustified, as the victims posed no threat.

But last year, the Government rejected calls for a probe - on a smaller scale - into the events in Ballymurphy, insisting it was not in the public interest.

The new inquest into an episode the families refer to as the Ballymurphy Massacre was ordered by Northern Ireland's Attorney General John Larkin in 2011.

That move came after a cold case review of the deaths by the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Historical Enquiries Team.

John Teggart, whose father Danny was killed in the shootings, said: "It is good that he (Mr Kenny) has shown the way forward. This is the way a government should deal with the past."

Background

Ten people died after being shot by soldiers, among them a priest and a mother-of-eight, over three days in August 1971. Another man died of a heart attack following an alleged violent confrontation with troops. Ten Protestants were gunned down in Kingsmills, Co Armagh, on January 5, 1976 by the IRA after their bus was stopped on their way home from work.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph