Good news for justice campaigns
Good news for justice campaigns


In a surprise move, a date has finally been set for an inquest into the deaths of those shot in a bout of killing by British soldiers in Ballymurphy almost 50 years ago.

In 1971, as part of the internment swoops by the British Army and RUC, the British Parachute Regiment was sent into Ballymurphy in west Belfast. In the 36 hours after the internment arrests began, eleven civilians were killed in the area.

Among those shot dead was a local parish priest, Fr Hugh Mullan, and Joan Connolly, a mother of eight.

The families have campaigned for 46 years for the truth about the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their loved ones. They were at the High Court on Friday for a routine preliminary hearing when they heard the news that a date for a full hearing of the inquest had been set for 11 September 2018.

John Taggart, who lost his father Daniel, said: “That’s a fantastic result for families like ourselves who’ve waited well over 40 years.

“We were hoping for this, you just couldn’t go on, the MoD [British Ministry of Defence] were dragging their feet with disclosure and everything else, and fair play to him [the judge], he’s took hold of this and he says there’s the date, get ready for it and that’s what we’re happy with.”

The relatives have battled delaying tactics over funding and disclosure, but they were described as emotional at the news on Friday. The families’ lawyer Padraig O Muirigh described it as progress, but said there is more work to do.

“The biggest issue and the most disappointing issue today in terms of progress was the lack of tracing the soldiers,” he said.

“We’ve identified a number of ways that this can be progressed and the coroner is taking those ideas on board and the coronial investigators will take that forward in the coming months before the inquest.”

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams commended the “courage and unflagging determination” of the families.

The innocent victims who lost their lives were: Fr Hugh Mullan, Francis Quinn, Daniel Teggart, Joan Connolly - a mother of eight, Joseph Murphy, Noel Phillips, Edward Doherty, John Laverty, Joseph Corr and John McKerr. An eleventh man, local community worker Paddy McCarthy, died from a heart attack after a British Army patrol subjected him to a mock execution.


In another positive development, a relative of those killed on Bloody Sunday has said prosecutors are considering charging 18 British soldiers.

Thirteen people died when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on Civil Rights demonstrators in Derry in 1972. A fourteenth person died later.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael was among those killed, said he met prosecutors recently and was told prosecutors are investigating 18 soldiers.

A Public Prosecution Service (PPS) spokesman later confirmed: “Investigation files in relation to Bloody Sunday were passed to the PPS in December 2016 and are presently under active consideration.

“No prosecution decision has yet been taken in relation to these files and it is likely to be some time before any decision will issue.

“We have recently made contact with families to provide an update on progress and also to explain our role and some of the legal issues that require consideration in this case.”

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