Ballymurphy families describe impact of massacre
Heartbroken family members read emotionally charged statements to the packed but silent courtroom in Belfast.
A number of the families of 10 people who were shot dead in Ballymurphy have spoken about the impact of the massacre in court for the first time, almost five decades after the killings.
On a day that had been building for 47 years, heartbroken family members read emotionally charged statements to the packed but silent courtroom in Belfast.
The family of Fr Hugh Mullan, who was killed as he was trying to help a wounded man, found it too difficult to speak openly in court and instead a video of each statement was played.
Fr Mullan’s brother Patsy described his 38-year-old brother as “very helpful and kind”.
Describing the moment he learned of his brother’s death he said: “I listened to all the news reports and later that night I heard a priest had been shot in Ballymurphy.
“I knew it would be him. So I went to my mother’s and told her he had been shot but that he was OK. I wasn’t sure if he was dead.
When I was later told that he was dead, I phoned our doctor and asked him to come to be with my mother as I didn't know how she would cope with this news Patsy Mullan
“When I was later told that he was dead, I phoned our doctor and asked him to come to be with my mother as I didn’t know how she would cope with this news.
“She was in a terrible state and had to be sedated.”
Fr Mullan’s niece, Geraldine McGrattan said: “When he died, it was so unbelievable that another human being could take the life of this special person who would never have hurt anyone.
“Who would happily help friends and strangers alike. I have seen people come to his door and leave much happier and comforted with his help.
“My grandmother was devastated, my own mother was in shock, neither woman ever fully recovered from his untimely and cruel death and both would talk of him and cry for him right to the end of their lives.
“As a family we want this inquest to prove that my uncle was not a gunman as was stated in some of the newspapers at the time. That he was an innocent priest going about his pastoral duties.”
Fr Mullan’s cousin, Gabriel Ellison, broke down as he recalled how Fr Mullan took him on a picnic trip when he was a child.
“I think of Fr Hugh as a very kind person who had a great brain and was very sincere,” he added.
“When he would come home from his studies he would take me out sailing his witchcraft around Stranford Lough.”
The brother of 19-year-old Frank Quinn, who was shot dead after trying to help the same wounded man, said he was watching the news when they heard a priest and a young man had been fatally injured in the Ballymurphy area.
Pat Quinn, who was accompanied by another brother, Liam, as he read out his statement in court, said: “My mother said ‘someone is going to have a sore heart tomorrow’. She didn’t know the tragedy was coming to our door.
“The next morning, I was lying in bed. I was off on school holidays, my daddy was away to work and my mummy was working in the Monarch laundry part-time.
“I heard banging on the front door and as I came down the stairs I could see my daddy through the glass door. I opened the door and I saw my daddy crying. He was distraught.
“I said ‘daddy, what’s wrong?’. He walked past me and sat on the stairs and said ‘Frank’s been shot’. I said ‘was he wounded? and he said ‘no, he’s dead’.
My mother was brought home from work. She was like a ghost. It was like hell on earth that this was happening to our family Pat Quinn
“Those three words changed me and my family’s lives forever. My mother was brought home from work. She was like a ghost. It was like hell on earth that this was happening to our family.”
Frank’s daughter Angela Sloan said: “(There are) so many memories that we didn’t get to make because someone decided that it was OK to take him from us, because he was a kind human being, he went to help others.
“I have always been proud of his bravery. Many a man would have walked away.
“Our loss was heartbreaking.”