Belfast Telegraph

Veteran who urged ex-soldiers to boycott Ballymurphy process may face action

Riots : Belfast. January 1971. Soldiers frisking passengers and driver of a car on the Springfield Road, near Ballymurphy. (14/01/1971)
Riots : Belfast. January 1971. Soldiers frisking passengers and driver of a car on the Springfield Road, near Ballymurphy. (14/01/1971)
Riots : Belfast. August 1970. Troops shelter behind their riot shields during rioting at Ballymurphy. (04/08/70)
Riots : Belfast. August 1970. The common sight in the Roman Catholic estate at Ballymurphy, Belfast, as young rioters attack the army with missiles during the troubles. (04/08/70)
Riots : Belfast. September 1970. Ballymurphy Disturbance: troops stand by at the junction of Springfield and Whiterock Roads, after a crowd had thrown stones at them and two police cars. (20/09/1970)
Riots : Belfast. January 1971. Catholic housing estate, Ballymurphy. (15/01/1971)
Mourners file past the coffin of Father Hugh Mullan, one of the 10 people killed (PA Archive)
Father Hugh Mullan. Shot at Moyard Park. 9/8/1971 THE FUNERAL HEARSE CARRYING THE BODY OF FATHER HUGH MULLAN TRAVELS ALONG THE ROAD IN BALLYMURPHY ESTATE. 12/8/1971
Joseph Murphy was one of 10 people shot dead by British soldiers in West Belfast in 1971
Pacemaker Press 17/6/10 John McKerr who is one of the 11 people died in the Ballymurphy Massacre in 1971 in West Belfast
Pacemaker Press 17/6/10 Fr Hugh Mullan who is one of the 11 people died in the Ballymurphy Massacre in 1971 in West Belfast
Pacemaker Press 17/6/10 Joseph Corr who is one of the 11 people died in the Ballymurphy Massacre in 1971 in West Belfast
Pacemaker Press 17/6/10 Danny Teggart who is one of the 11 people died in the Ballymurphy Massacre in 1971 in West Belfast
Pacemaker Press 17/6/10 Paddy McCarthy who is one of the 11 people died in the Ballymurphy Massacre in 1971 in West Belfast
Pacemaker Press 17/6/10 John Laverty who is one of the 11 people died in the Ballymurphy Massacre in 1971 in West Belfast
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 25th January 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ballymurphy massacre relatives call for a meeting with the Prime Minister, David Cameron. 10 people were shot dead by soldiers in west Belfast in August 1971. The victims, which included a priest and a mother-of-eight, were killed over the course of three days in August 1971 by members of the Parachute Regiment during Operation Demetrius, when people suspected of paramilitary activity were interned. Relatives Rita Bonner, John Teggart and Briege Voyle pictured at the top of the Whiterock Road in west Belfast beside a mural depicting the shootings.
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

The coroner presiding over the Ballymurphy inquest will reveal what action will be taken against a veteran who urged soldiers to "suffer from a total memory loss" if called to give evidence.

Michael Mansfield QC, who represents a number of the victims' families, said his clients would "appreciate some action" against Alan Barry who made the plea on social media yesterday morning.

"If you are subpoenaed by the Ballymurphy Inquest then suffer from a total memory loss," the former soldier wrote on Twitter.

"Tell them you can barely remember what you did yesterday let alone 40 plus years ago.

"I'm sorry I can't remember, I'm sorry I can't remember!"

At the very same time, relatives of three victims were outlining the heartache they have endured as a result of the killings and their decades-long fight for justice.

Mr Mansfield said that while many consider Mr Barry, who is involved in the campaign group Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans (JFNIV), to be an "empty barrel", the coroner should examine the issue at her own discretion.

Mrs Justice Siobhan Keegan said "nobody else needs to comment" on the issue as she vowed to "take up" the matter and get back to Mr Mansfield today.

It comes just one day after Mr Mansfield called for direct action over "widespread and deep" concern that British soldiers are boycotting the inquest at "a critical point".

"The appearance of a boycott is being articulated very clearly," he told the coroner on Tuesday.

Alan Barry of campaigners Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans
Alan Barry of campaigners Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans

He was speaking after Mr Barry advised soldiers involved in the Ballymurphy case not to co-operate with requests to attend the inquests.

Mr Mansfield said the warnings to soldiers present a serious risk of adverse inference.

Barrister Barry McDonald, who represents some of the other victims' families, said that at least 12 soldiers fired 117 shots into an area known as the Manse field on August 9, 1971.

However, he added that not one of the soldiers has provided a statement to the inquest.

"The soldiers who fired are simply refusing to co-operate with this inquest and are boycotting it," he added.

Mrs Justice Keegan previously expressed concern over the issue and issued a stark reminder that co-operation is key to her role.

"If people refuse to co-operate I have the power to subpoena witnesses or draw adverse inference," she said. "It is not permissible for people to discourage those who may have relevant information to come forward."

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