Irish Republican News · August 8, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Fortieth anniversary of Ballymurphy and Internment

An event to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1971 Ballymurphy massacre has heard renewed calls for an independent international inquiry.

Over a thousand people turned out on Sunday to mark the murder of 11 people by the British Army in the small west Belfast community.

British soldiers shot their victims dead over a 36-hour period that began on August 9 1971. Among those killed were a mother-of-eight and a priest.

Campaigners held a ‘march for truth’ through west Belfast on Sunday to remember the dead and repeat their call for an inquiry into the shootings, that followed the introduction of the oppressive British policy of internment without trial.

Among those to address the crowd was Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

Mr Adams said that while 1971 was history to some people, for others “it is part of our lives”.

“The Civil Rights campaign was only a few years old. The pogroms had occurred two years earlier. This area has opened its homes to the refugees. We were also under military occupation.

“Internment was part of a planned military and political strategy by the British government. The Paras were sent into this area to create a killing zone. None of those killed were members of any armed group.”

Mr Adams said the British Army had lied about being shot at by IRA gunmen and that people who had lost loved ones in the conflict needed closure.

“The British government know what happened. So do the Irish government. What is needed now is an independent international investigation.”


The massacre took place followed the imposition of internment, when hundreds of nationalists were summarily imprisoned without trial during a period which began on 9 Aug 1971. Many of them were detained randomly or on false information.

Tomorrow, on the 40th anniversary of the original internment without trial, a legal action alleging torture and unlawful detention is to be taken against the British government.

On Tuesday, six former internees will serve legal writs on British Direct Ruler Owen Paterson. The writs cite newly uncovered documents on internment -- internal British military and internal British military papers -- which confirm the repressive intent and illegal nature of the internment policy.

Tommy Doyle was one of more than 300 interned at Long Kesh, which at that time was akin to a concentration camp.

“They put a boiler suit on me, took me to the back of the camp,” he said. “They gave me a shovel and told me to dig a hole and then get in til it.

“When I dug it, next thing the soldiers fired shots, they obviously were blank shots but they were trying to scare you.

“They put me in a helicopter, blindfolded me and threw me out.”

Joseph Curley was also thrown from a helicopter. “They put a hood over me and I lost track of where I was going, I didn’t know where I was going but the soldier was dropping the butt of his rifle on my head,” he said.

Mother of two, Evelyn Gilroy was interned at Armagh prison and described it as “psychological torture”.

“I was served with papers which I had to sign to consent to my children being put in care,” she said. “I had no access at all to my youngest baby who was nine months, with the result that when I did see her she didn’t recognise me and had no knowledge of her mother.”

Lawyer Kevin Winters described internment as “one of the single biggest human rights abuses throughout the Troubles”.

“It’s hoped and anticipated that later this year we hope to issue proceedings for damages, for false imprisonment unlawful detention and wrongful arrest.”

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© 2011 Irish Republican News