London made to pay for brutality of Paras

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A north Belfast man has received a five-figure compensation pay out from the British Ministry of Defence over serious assault and torture almost 50 years ago.

The man, who does not want to be named, received the sum after taking a lawsuit against the British government.

The case arose from the serious physical and psychological abuse the man suffered over a number of hours, while detained by members of the British Army’s notorious Parachute Regiment in 1971.

In December of that year, the 26-year-old docks worker was returning to his workplace in Belfast when he was stopped by six soldiers and seriously assaulted.

He was put against a wall and struck several times, before being placed in the back of a Saracen armoured vehicle for several hours.

Recalling what happened, the man said the soldiers “started thumping me with their fists”.

“They started to kick and beat me in the face,” he said.

“They were lifting me by the hair and started sticking their boots into my face. The soldier who had first stopped me started to hit me over the head with the baton.

“They made me get up and sit down on a seat, then the soldier lifted the gun and rammed the barrel into my mouth, breaking off a bit of my tooth.

“They all lit up a cigarette each. They said `Do you know the Queen?’. I said `I don’t’ so they pulled back my lip, and stuck the cigarette in it.

“The soldier on the right, and the soldier on the left put a cigarette up against my ear burning me. They got my hands and started burning my two hands. I was with them for about two-and-a-half hours”.

The man received a full apology for what had happened to him in 2015 when a Tory Minister referred to “appalling incident in which soldiers concerned fell far below the standards expected in a civilised society”.

It was the first apology for a non-fatal incident in the north of Ireland issued by the British government.

Speaking afterwards, the north Belfast man said he had “never forgotten” what had happened”.

“I was an innocent man returning to work after a lunch break,” he said.

“I was brutalised over two-and-a-half hours before finally being thrown from the vehicle.

“I felt vindicated by the custodial sentence imposed on one of the soldiers involved and feel that further justice has now been done on the 50th Anniversary of this attack”.

He added: “I am thankful for all those who helped me throughout this process and I feel as though I can now close off this chapter of my life”.

BALLYMURPHY INQUEST

Meanwhile, it emerged this week that the findings of the Ballymurphy Inquest are due to be published on 11 May. The Parachute Regiment was also responsible for the deaths of ten unarmed civilians in Ballymurphy, known as the Ballymurphy Massacre.

In a statement, relatives of those who died said they welcomed the coroner’s announcement and described it as a “long and difficult road”.

The statement added that families “had to sit through horrific evidence about how their loved ones died as well as how they were treated both before and after their deaths”.

“Gruesome details of their injuries and their last moments before death were revealed in evidence,” it continued.

John Teggart, whose father Danny was among the victims, said he had grown up “searching for answers” about his killing.

“Families have worked very hard to get to this stage when we will see the results of the many years of campaigning for truth,” he said.

“We have confidence that the coroner’s findings will vindicate our loved one’s innocence.”

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