Belfast Telegraph

Ballymurphy massacre victim's son rubbishes UVF claim it was involved as bid to deflect blame

By Rebecca Black and Alan Erwin

The son of a man killed in the Ballymurphy massacre says he's sceptical after the UVF admitted being involved in the shootings.

John Teggart accused the terror group of attempting to hinder the families' bid for the truth.

The Parachute Regiment has consistently been blamed for killing 10 people in the west Belfast estate in August 1971.

Danny Teggart (44) was among those who died during three days of gunfire involving soldiers.

His son told the Belfast Telegraph that he was deeply suspicious over new claims that a UVF sniper was involved.

It emerged yesterday that "veterans" within the UVF had identified a sniper they say carried out a number of the shootings.

With an inquest scheduled to start in September, the information is to be provided to the Coroners Service.

One of those aware of the process described it as an attempt to shed some light on one of the most chaotic and notorious killing sprees of the Troubles.

The shootings occurred amid disturbances sparked by the introduction of internment.

Among the dead were a priest and a mother-of-eight. Another man later died of heart failure.

Loyalists who were active at the time have now come forward with new allegations.

They approached an interlocutor to claim a UVF terrorist located in the neighbouring Springmartin estate opened fire into Ballymurphy.

It is understood they have provided the gunman's name, alleging he was responsible for a number of the deaths.

Information has also been supplied on the rifle allegedly used, along with its subsequent seizure by the authorities.

Leader of the UVF-linked PUP Billy Hutchinson claimed it was a significant move that could help provide clarity around what happened in Ballymurphy.

"The IRA should reciprocate and declare what, if anything, it knows about the events over those days," he added.

But Mr Teggart, who was just 11 when his father was killed, said the families would prefer the focus remains on trying to track down members from the British Army who they believe carried out the killings. He said:

"We question what the intention of this is. From the start there was no evidence to suggest this.

"Our loved ones were murdered by members of the Parachute Regiment. They have put statements forward from 1971 saying they murdered our loved ones, and made out that our loved ones were gunmen and gunwomen, which is completely untrue. And if there was a UVF gunman up in Springmartin, why were the paratroopers shooting civilians who lived in Ballymurphy instead of the gunman? It is laughable.

"The UVF is not trying to do us any favours, they are trying to take the focus off the Parachute Regiment. From 2011, when we were granted the inquest, there have been stalling tactics, people trying to derail the inquest. We have fought that off all along, this is just another thing to sidetrack us."

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said: "There is already a volume of evidence that the British Army were behind these killings and there would be a suspicion that this is merely aimed at deflecting from that."

Belfast Telegraph

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