Truth campaigners now say that Bloody Sunday might never have happened had the British Army been brought to book for the Ballymurphy slaughter.
Two British Army Paratroopers who shot dead six people on Bloody Sunday are understood to have killed up to four people in the Ballymurphy Massacre, just five months earlier.
Between August 9 and 11, 1971 -- the beginning of internment -- 11 innocent civilians were shot dead by the British Army in the greater Ballymurphy area in west Belfast.
Two of the dead, Frank Quinn and Fr Hugh Mullan, were killed by two snipers from 1st Para firing from the roof of the Henry Taggart Memorial Hall on the Springfield Road.
The same soldiers were also in the building when Joseph Murphy and Danny Teggart were brought there after being shot by the British Army.
Instead of receiving medical treatment the men were beaten and then killed, it’s claimed. The Para snipers are suspected of involvement in these deaths.
No British soldier has ever faced a court in relation to the Ballymurphy Massacre.
Five months later - on January 30, 1972 - 1st Para was sent on to the streets of the Bogside in Derry. In a carbon-copy of what happened in Ballymurphy, although over a shorter period of time, they killed 14 unarmed civilians.
Two snipers from 1st Para, identified as ‘F’ and ‘G’ in the Saville Inquiry into the slaughter, were responsible for six deaths in Derry.
Truth campaigners believe they are the same soldiers who killed up to four people in the Ballymurphy Massacre five months previously.
Andree Murphy of Relatives for Justice (RFJ), which represents the families of the Ballymurphy dead, yesterday called for an independent, international investigation into the Ballymurphy shootings.
She said: “Bloody Sunday could have been prevented if the Paratroopers had been held accountable for Ballymurphy.
“If Ballymurphy had been investigated properly, circumstances would have prevailed which would have prevented British soldiers from shooting people with impunity in Derry.”
Lieutenant-Colonel Derek Wilford commanded 1st Para at the time. Prior to the Ballymurphy Massacre he ordered his troops to take action that would “shock and stun the population”, according to documents uncovered in the National Archive by truth campaigners.
Snipers from 1st Para’s elite anti-tank platoon mixed with other British army regiments on the roof of the Henry Taggart Memorial Hall overlooking Ballymurphy.
Throughout August 9 they opened up on any moving target in the firing zone - killing Fr Hugh Mullan and then Frank Quinn, who had bravely rushed to the aid of the dying priest.
Danny Teggart and Joseph Murphy were shot the same day. British soldiers brought them into the Henry Taggart Hall, where they were tortured, according to locals.
Danny was already dead, however Joseph survived for another two weeks before passing away.
The 1st Para snipers were in the hall at the time of the torture. Danny and Joseph were beaten and had rubber bullets fired at them from point-blank range, it’s claimed. It is also reported that the victims were lifted into the air with bayonets pushed deep into their bullet wounds.
Andree Murphy believes that in many ways Ballymurphy was worse than Bloody Sunday.
She added: “This was random, indiscriminate killing and torture. In many ways it was worse than Bloody Sunday because it lasted three days.
“The British government needs to make a statement acknowledging the role of its soldiers in the Ballymurphy Massacre and the hurt and pain they caused, as well as the innocence of those shot dead.
“Forty-three children were left without a parent after it ended.
“There needs to be an inquiry into how this was allowed to happen, it cannot stop now, it has to go further.”
The Ballymurphy Massacre victims were Fr Hugh Mullan (38), Frank Quinn (19), Noel Phillips (19), Joan Connolly (45), Danny Teggart (44), Joseph Murphy (41), Joseph Corr (43), Eddie Doherty (28), John Laverty (19), John McKerr (49) and Pat McCarthy (44).