Ballymurphy: track down the massacre paras
Enquiry team seeks soldiers for evidence on Ballymurphy atrocity in 1971
The Historical Enquiries Team is scouring the world for former paras and other witnesses to the Ballymurphy massacre in which 11 people were shot dead by members of the regiment.
The killings took place over two days following the first internment swoop on August 9, 1971.
Nigel Mumford, a member of Second Para who witnessed part of the slaughter in west Belfast, has now come forward to the Belfast Telegraph to admit firing two shots.
In an unusual step to speak out about his role in the violence, he claims his colleagues beat internees and later planted bullets on some of the dead. However, he maintains that soldiers in Henry Taggart Hall, where he was based, would have been overrun if they had not opened fire.
He cannot speak for other locations.
“The HET have been everywhere looking for me,” Mr Mumford told the Belfast Telegraph.
He said several other paras had already spoken to the unit, which is reinvestigating all Troubles deaths. He lives abroad and was nervous of getting involved.
However he agreed to communicate with the investigators initially through this newspaper and gave us his account of what happened.
Paul Johnston, deputy director of the HET, confirmed that he wanted to talk to Mr Mumford who was a medic and treated several of the injured at Ballymurphy.
“We have spoken to a number of soldiers who were involved in the Parachute Regiment in and around Ballymurphy after internment,” he said.
He added that he was trying to contact them through networks of ex-soldiers and that several had told him Mr Mumford was a reliable witness.
“We are appealing for civilians as well as military to speak to us as part of this review,” he said.
The news comes after the Bal
lymurphy relatives were refused a public inquiry by Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State.
The Ballymurphy Massacre Families spoke of their loss of confidence in the HET, pointing to recent criticisms of the unit.
Instead they are seeking a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron to press for a fully independent investigation not involving the HET.
In a statement they said it was “clearly in the public interest” to fully establish the circumstances of the deaths and the role of the Parachute Regiment, “especially given the recent findings of Lord Saville in relation to the events of Bloody Sunday”.
Mr Mumford, who is currently in hospital, said he would take time to consider his options.
The ex-soldier spoke of his experience in Northern Ireland when the Belfast Telegraph contacted him about a separate incident he was involved in in Ballymurphy.
It was his earlier evidence which helped reopen the case of Liam Holden which is expected to be held at the Court of Appeal in Belfast today.
Mr Holden was convicted of the murder of Frank Bell, Mr Mumford’s colleague in First Para, in 1972.
Mr Mumford cradled the dying soldier’s head after he was shot on Springhill Avenue in September 1972.
He supported Holden’s claims of innocence by saying the circumstances didn’t fit.
This led directly to the |case being reopened and his conviction will be ruled on in court today.
Mr Holden’s conviction was based on a confession obtained by waterboarding.