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Boris Johnson issues apology to families of victims of Ballymurphy massacre in the House of Commons

A coroner found that the victims of the massacre in August 1971 were “entirely innocent”.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson has today issued an apology to the families of those killed in the Ballymurphy massacre in the House of Commons. 

Johnson began by referencing the finding of the recent inquest that all 10 victims in Ballymurphy in 1971 were “entirely innocent”. 

Last week, a coroner ruled that the 10 people killed in the west Belfast shootings involving British soldiers in Ballymurphy in August 1971 were “entirely innocent”.

Coroner Mrs Justice Siobhan Keegan attributed nine of the ten shootings to the British Army and said the use of lethal force by soldiers was not justified.

Original inquests into the Ballymurphy deaths in 1972 returned open verdicts and the bereaved families subsequently pursued a long campaign for fresh probes to be held.

Families had initially rejected apologies issued by Boris Johnson and the British government.

In the case of Johnson, he apologised for the killings that took place in a private phone call to First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill.

John Teggart, the son of one of the ten people killed, said Johnson’s apology was not a public apology, describing it as an “insult to the families”.

The House of Commons heard last week that Johnson would write to the families personally to apologise, and he made a public statement on the matter earlier today prior to Prime Minister’s Questions.

“Last week, an inquest found Francis Quinn, Father Hugh Mullan, Noel Phillips, Joan Connolly, Daniel Teggart, Joseph Murphy, Edward Doherty, John Laverty, Joseph Corr and John McKerr, who were killed in Ballymurphy in August 1971 entirely innocent,” he said.

“On behalf of successive governments, and to put on the record of this House, I’d like to say sorry to their families for how the investigations were handled and the pain they’ve endured since their campaign began five decades ago.

No apology, Mr Speaker, can lessen their lasting pain. I hope they may take some comfort in the answers they have secured. And in knowing that this has renewed this government’s determination to ensure in future that other families can find answers with less distress and delay.

Johnson concluded that he had had meetings with ministerial colleagues on this matter earlier today and would have further such meetings. 

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Sean Murray

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