Ballymurphy campaigners call for soldier amnesty plans to be scrapped

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Victims of the Ballymurphy massacre in west Belfast in 1971

By Q Radio News

The UK Government’s amnesty proposals should be scrapped if the Ballymurphy families are vindicated later, according to campaigner John Teggart.

Mr Teggart is confident the truth will prevail today when findings from fresh inquests into the fatal shooting of 10 people by the British army in west Belfast 50 years ago are published.

 

His father Daniel was one of 10 people shot dead during 3 days of unrest as a result of internment in August 1971. 

Mr Teggart believes the timing of the plans to spare soldiers from prosecution - expected to be announced in the Queen’s speech today - is deliberate. 

 

A mother of eight and a Catholic priest were among those who died in August 1971, in events which have become known locally as the Ballymurphy Massacre.

Original inquests into the Ballymurphy deaths in 1972 returned open verdicts and the bereaved families subsequently pursued a long campaign for fresh probes to be held.

New inquests began in 2018, with the final oral evidence heard last March.

Eye-witnesses, forensic experts, former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and more than 60 former soldiers – including former head of the Army General Sir Mike Jackson – gave evidence at Belfast Coroner’s Court.

The families of those killed contend they were innocent, unarmed civilians shot by soldiers without justification.

Relatives took part in a church service on Monday ahead of the findings and described their feeling that Tuesday will be a hard and anxious day.

Briege Voyle said the pain of losing her mother, Joan Connolly, was made even harder when misinformation was circulated that she had been a gunwoman.

Ms Voyle told the PA news agency that she is praying Ms Connolly’s name will finally be cleared on the official record five decades later.

(Briege Voyle with a picture of her mother Joan Connelly who was killed in the 1971 Ballymurphy Massacre - PA)

Father Hugh Mullan was shot after he had crawled to waste ground where a man had been shot to administer the Last Rites.

His brother, Patsy, described him as simply wanting to help people.

“My brother was not involved in anything other than going out to help somebody,” he said.

“He was a priest and anointed a man; as he left him to go and try and get an ambulance he was shot.”

 

The findings are due on a day that an intention by the UK Government to ban future prosecutions of British soldiers who served in Northern Ireland is expected to be outlined in the Queen’s Speech.

It has been reported that the move will also apply to former paramilitaries.

Troubles victims and politicians across Ireland voiced anger at the expected move last week when it was reported in the Daily Telegraph and the Times.

(John Teggart, standing in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast, where his father Daniel Teggart, was among those killed - PA)

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