Irish Republican News · October 12, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Insult upon injury for Ballymurphy families

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams clashed with British Secretary of State Owen Paterson after he wore a wristband supporting the British Army’s notorious Royal Irish Regiment at a meeting with the families of victims of a British Army massacre.

Details of their behind-the-scenes disagreement leaked after the senior republican led a delegation of families from west Belfast to meet the senior Tory to discuss what has become known as the Ballymurphy Massacre.

But as the relatives recounted how 11 of their loved ones were shot dead by troops in 1971, Mr Adams challenged Mr Paterson on his wearing of a wristband backing the RIR at the meeting.

One source said: “During the course of the meeting, the wristband was clearly visible.

“At one point Gerry challenged Owen Paterson for wearing the wristband, given the nature of the meeting.

“Gerry made the point that this is a regiment that was born out of the UDR (Ulster Defence Regiment) which would not be thought of affectionately by nationalists.

“But more importantly this was a meeting at which a British Secretary of State was listening to a succession of horror stories from families who are victims of the British Army.”

A British official said Paterson had not sought to cause offence.

Mr Adams, who accompanied the Ballymurphy Massacre Family delegation at Stormont, said the meeting with Paterson was “very unsatisfactory.”

“His attitude to the families was not appropriate. Mr Paterson did not show any sense of affinity with what these families have been through”, he said.

“The case the family make is compelling. The British secretary of state has an opportunity to define his role in a positive way. He has an opportunity to liberate these families and many others by making the right decision.”

Briege Voyle, whose mother, Jean, was killed in 1971, says families are not looking for prosecutions.

“Forty years is a long time to wait to be told that our loved ones are innocent. We need the British Government to announce to the world that they are innocent”, she said.

Paterson is to meet the families again in the New Year.

“We are disappointed,” said John Teggart, whose 44-year-old father Danny died after he was shot 14 times, leaving behind a family of 13 children.

“But we are a strong campaign group. We will go forward and have a further meeting planned for the New Year.”

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