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Ballymurphy shootings: Minister rules out inquiry

Northern Ireland Minister Hugo Swire last night indicated the Government would not open an investigation into the killing of 11 people by the Army in 1971.

He told MPs the Government believed the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), which is examining the Ballymurphy shootings, was capable of dealing with any |investigation.

After the Bloody Sunday |Inquiry, the Government said it was against more costly public inquiries.

However, a group representing the families of the people killed in the west Belfast shootings has campaigned for a full international independent inquiry to be held.

It has furiously criticised the |investigation by the HET, saying it did not want the state investigating the state.

But Mr Swire insisted the case had to be considered in the context of one of the “bloodiest years” of the Troubles.

He said: “We listened carefully to the families' calls for an international independent investigation, a recognition of the innocence of the loved ones and an apology.

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“We did, of course, note the ongoing investigation into the case being carried out by the HET. The Government strongly supports the work of the HET.”

He added that the Government would accept responsibility for the wrongdoings of the state, but focusing solely on the actions of the state was not appropriate.

The SDLP'S Mark Durkan |appeared close to tears as he |recounted the details of the Ballymurphy Massacre.

During a debate he secured on the deaths, he became visibly upset when telling MPs how Catholic priest Father Hugh Mullan was shot down when he went to the aid of another victim.

The 11 men and women, including a mother-of-eight Joan Connolly, were killed by Paratroopers who claimed that they had opened fire only after being shot at by |republicans.

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