Belfast march marks 50 years since Ballymurphy shootings

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The 50th anniversary of the deaths of ten innocent people who were shot and killed in a British Army operation in Ballymurphy was marked in Belfast on Sunday, August 8.

The Ballymurphy Massacre took place over 36 hours immediately after the introduction of internment without trial, beginning on August 9.

Earlier this year, a Belfast coroner concluded that all ten of the Ballymurphy victims were “entirely innocent” and that their killings were unjustified.

On Sunday, the families of the Ballymurphy victims were joined on their ‘march for truth’ by a number of victims groups relating to others who were killed during the conflict.

The groups were also present to demonstrate their opposition to plans from the British government to deal with legacy issues including the proposed introduction of a ban on prosecutions from the conflict.

The passage of time in the campaigns for justice was underlined this week when last surviving widow of a Bloody Sunday victim, Ita McKinney, died at the aged of 83.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael was one of 14 innocent Catholic civil rights demonstrators killed on Bloody Sunday, said that victims’ families will “never give up” and will “continue on the campaign for truth and justice for our loved ones”.

Despite inclement weather, more than a thousand people took part in the annual march which left Springfield Park along a route lined with black flags which passed several places where victims were killed. Many of those present wore white shirts to highlight the innocence of those who died in line with the inquest’s findings.

Bobby Clarke was the first person to be shot at Ballymurphy 50 years ago, but survived and now is in his 80s. He was present with the victims’ families before the march began, and said that he is also against an amnesty on prosecutions, and wants to know the truth.

“I don’t want anybody crucified, but at least admit their guilt, that’s it,” he said.

John Teggart, whose father Daniel Teggart was shot and killed in Ballymurphy in 1971, said that “victims from all over are uniting today and are united with one voice” in opposition to the proposals.

He said that a lot of the other families had hoped to follow in the Ballymurphy families’ footsteps.

“We are saying (to the British government) you will not bring in these new proposals, you will not stop the inquests going forward, and you will not stop any civil or legal avenues we have ahead of us. You will not stop it.

“We are united and we will continue to fight,” he said.

Mr Teggart said the Ballymurphy families’ campaign, culminating in the inquest, had “shocked” the government.

“We used their laws against them and now they want to bring in new laws to protect those who murdered our loved ones.”

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