Irish Republican News · December 20, 2014
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Ballymurphy Massacre victim to be exhumed


The body of a man shot dead by British soldiers in Belfast more than 40 years ago is to be exhumed, a coroner has ruled.

Joseph Murphy was injured during the Ballymurphy massacre in August 1971 and died 13 days later in hospital. Nine others were also killed.

Coroner Jim Kitson told a preliminary hearing in Belfast that an exhumation order had been granted because of the “exceptional circumstances” of the case.

The family believe Mr Murphy was shot at a military barracks after being injured and that a bullet may still be lodged in his leg.

The coroner said if he had not ordered the exhumation the family would “forever be left wondering if an important piece of evidence” had been missed.

Mr Kitson added: “They have waited more than 40 years. They are entitled to expect that the investigation will be conducted with rigour.”

Relatives of Mr Murphy wept as the ruling was given during a sitting at the city centre Laganside court complex.

Outside, his daughter, Janet Donnelly (pictured), who was eight years old at the time of his death, spoke of her relief at the coroner’s decision.

“I am shaking. I am glad that he made the right decision. I think it was the right decision,” she said.

“As the coroner said, we have waited over 40 years. My father always said he was shot inside the army barracks.

“Hopefully, if we can retrieve this bullet, we can move forward.

“My father stated from his hospital bed that he was shot into his open wound. There was only one entrance wound and an exit wound.

“The HET [Historical Enquiries Team] uncovered new information to say there was a second bullet in my father’s body. So, we just want to know, where did it come from?”

Mr Murphy, a father-of-12, was among 10 people killed during the British Army operation which saw soldiers storm west Belfast following the introduction of internment of republicans without trial.

Other victims during the three days of shooting included a Catholic priest and a mother-of-eight.

Relatives have long campaigned for an acknowledgement that their loved ones were wrongfully killed.

John Teggart, a spokesman for the Ballymurphy families campaign group, described it as a “good day for the Murphy case and the campaign.”

The case has been adjourned until February 6 2015.

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