Families of people shot by British soldiers 50 years ago in Ballymurphy have called on the Irish government to intervene in any effort to avoid the British government’s persecution of veterans.
Family members said they would take legal action against plans to block the prosecution of former British soldiers.
Carmel Quinn, whose brother John Laverty was shot in the incident in west Belfast, appeared before the Good Friday Agreement Committee in Dublin today.
She said Prime Minister Boris Johnson should be told “firmly” that there should be no amnesty for soldiers alleged to have committed crimes during the troubles in Northern Ireland.
Earlier this month, Mr. Johnson issued a formal apology to the families of Ballymurphy’s victims after a coroner found that the 10 people who died in August 1971 were “completely innocent.”
The army was found to be responsible for nine of the dead, including a mother of eight and a Catholic priest.
Families of those killed, with a letter from Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologizing after a coroner found British soldiers responsible for nine of the dead
The Prime Minister has “apologized unconditionally” for the events that led to the deaths of 10 innocent civilians in Ballymurphy 50 years ago. Clockwise from top left: Joseph Corr, Daniel Teggart, Edward Doherty, Father Hugh Mullan, Francis ‘Frank’ Quinn, Joseph Murphy, John Laverty, Noel Phillips, John McKerr, Joan Connolly
Coroner Mrs. Justice Keegan found that 10 people killed in Ballymurphy in August 1971 were ‘completely innocent’
Fine Gael Senator Emer Currie said families should have access to an effective investigation and trial of justice for any death-related problems.
“I am totally against any unilateral action that changes the Stormont House Agreement, which is a collective framework for dealing with inheritance,” Ms. Currie told the committee.
“If unilateral action is taken, what does that mean for obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), an important part of the Good Friday Agreement, and what does that mean for international human rights?”
Padraig O Muirigh, lawyer for the Ballymurphy families, said any attempt to grant amnesty to British soldiers is in violation of the ECHR.
“These families will challenge such a move by the UK government, if necessary in national or European courts,” he added.
Carmel Quinn, the late John Laverty’s sister, photographed at a press conference earlier in May
Boris Johnson apologized on behalf of the UK government during a telephone conversation with Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill.
Who were the ten people shot in the ‘Ballymurphy massacre’?
Francis ‘Frank’ Quinn, 19, was shot while going to the rescue of an injured man.
Father Hugh Mullan, 38, a Catholic priest, was shot while going to the rescue of an injured man.
There are indications that the priest had waved a white object, a handkerchief or a T-shirt at the time.
He had served in the merchant navy for a year before serving as a priest in parishes in Belfast, County Antrim and County Down before going to Ballymurphy.
Joan ConnollyA mother of eight, 44, was shot facing the army base.
It is claimed that she would have survived had her received medical attention earlier. She was dying for several hours.
Her family had moved from a two-bedroom bungalow to a four-bedroom house in Ballymurphy in 1966.
Briege Voyle, one of Mrs. Connolly’s daughters, said her mother “ just couldn’t get the Troubles around. ”
The mother of eight had made tea and sandwiches for British soldiers in the family home.
Mrs. Connolly was looking for her daughters – who had been transferred to a refugee camp during the unrest – when she died.
Daniel Teggart, 44, was shot fourteen times.
Most of the bullets went into his back.
They were alleged to have been fired while he was wounded on the floor
Noel Phillips, 20, was shot while facing an army base
Joseph Murphy, 41, was shot while facing an army base
He claimed to have been beaten and shot again in hospital while in police custody
Edward Doherty, 28, was shot while walking along a road
John Laverty, 20 and Joseph Corr, 43, was shot at various points at the top of the same road
John McKerr, 49, was shot outside a Catholic church
There was not enough evidence to determine where the shot that killed him came from, nor whether it was fired by the military or paramilitaries
He died of his injuries nine days later, on August 20
Ms. Quinn said the inquiries were often troubling to the families.
It was the attitude of some soldiers who were asked about things but said they couldn’t remember. That was absolutely right, ”she added.
‘There are other families who have not had any recognition, their loved ones were murdered one day and then nothing happened.
“The Stormont House Accord is in place, the mechanisms are there, but people cannot move forward and they are trapped in the past because there has never been any accountability for what happened.
‘A letter has been sent to the Irish government from people from all walks of life who have lost someone in the conflict but who still need some form of accountability.
‘That needs to be addressed. The Stormont House Accord must be implemented and the Prime Minister must be forcefully told that there is no amnesty for soldiers on the table. ‘
John Teggart, whose father Danny was shot by a soldier in August 1971, said that if a proper investigation had been done at the time of death, it would have saved other lives.
He added: ‘If the courts had been more sympathetic to the families without believing the military’s word at the time, if things had been done differently in the courts and they were brought to account, it would have been different.
‘We have corrected history and justified their good names. We hope that the same help and resources and the same laws were available to others. ‘
Mr. Teggart, who was eleven when his father was murdered, described the years after his death as follows: “It was very difficult. I got really angry about what happened.
‘I would have floated my mummy crying at night. My family was split up to try to help in some way. We shared the pain and it continued in life. ‘
Mrs. Quinn, who was eight years old when her brother was murdered, said, “There were night raids on our homes because that’s what the army did. They targeted the homes of the people who were murdered, they tried to keep us quiet and demonize us.
It was another way of trying to keep families under control.
‘My mother was never the same after that. It has had a lasting impact on my life.
‘I am very aware of where my children are, who are now adults, and I am very alert and anxious. The rest of my siblings were never the same and never lived the life they should have lived.
‘Sometimes I get really angry because they not only killed my brother but also destroyed an entire family. I watched my mother die slowly before my eyes and my father died of a broken heart.
“Our loved ones were innocent, but we need prosecution and investigation. We will never move on.
“I can’t accept what happened to my brother.”