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Families of Ballymurphy massacre victims to meet the Taoiseach today

A priest and a mother of eight were among those shot dead by members of the British Army Parachute Regiment in 1971.

Breige Voyle (right), who lost her mother Joan Connolly in the 1971 Ballymurphy Massacre, speaks during a press conference in Ballymurphy in west Belfast.
Breige Voyle (right), who lost her mother Joan Connolly in the 1971 Ballymurphy Massacre, speaks during a press conference in Ballymurphy in west Belfast.
Image: Press Association Images

FAMILY MEMBERS OF 11 people killed by the British Army in west Belfast over 40 years ago will meet with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny today.

The families are campaigning for an independent panel to investigate the deaths in 1971.

Padraig Ó Muirigh the solicitor for the family said the families want an independent investigation – like that for Hillsborough.

The Ballymurphy shootings took place hours after the government introduced a policy of internment, where paramilitary suspects were detained without charge or trial.

Belfast 1971

The Parachute Regiment in Ballymurphy were ordered to arrest people suspected of paramilitary activity.

Ó Muirigh said on RTE’s Morning Ireland today that the families had hoped to get a meeting with the Irish Government sooner as they had approached them last May, but said they are hopeful of a positive outcome and a clear decision from Irish Government today.

Families state they have uncovered a number of new witnesses and said their family members were “innocent and not armed – these weren’t gunmen or women”.

Ó Muirigh said they already had a panel assembled which includes the former Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan and Phil Scraton, a key co-ordinator of Hillsborough investigation – and they have agreed to come on board.

The truth

The aim of the families “is to get the truth”, he said, adding they have waited over 40 years. “They have never been given a proper investigation into the death of their loved ones,” said Ó Muirigh.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has welcomed the decision by the Taoiseach to meet with the families of the Ballymurphy Massacre.

Speaking this morning in advance of the meeting the Sinn Féin leader commended the “dedication and commitment of the families who have worked tirelessly over many years to get to the truth of the deaths of their loved ones”.

He said:

I urge the Taoiseach to endorse the families call for a new initiative which seeks the appointment of an Independent Panel to examine all of the documents relating to the context, circumstances and aftermath of the deaths of their loved ones.

Read: One year on: Hillsborough families left ‘dismayed’ by lack of progress>

Read: Hillsborough probe finds more police statements changed>

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