Families’ call to army on Belfast shootings

Relatives want to know if paratroopers accused of killings involved in Bloody Sunday later

Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin ordered the new inquest  in 2011. Photograph: PA

Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin ordered the new inquest in 2011. Photograph: PA

Wed, May 21, 2014, 01:00

Families of those shot dead by soldiers during a controversial British army operation in west Belfast in 1971 have urged the army to reveal if any of the paratroopers were also involved in the Bloody Sunday killings six months later.

Lawyers representing bereaved relatives in a new inquest into the deaths of 10 people shot over a three-day period in Ballymurphy have asked for a cross-referencing exercise to be carried out by the ministry of defence to establish if soldiers on the ground had a role in other lethal force incidents.

At a preliminary hearing in Belfast’s Laganside courts ahead of the fresh inquest commencing, coroner Jim Kitson requested that an expert review all the original pathology evidence from the Ballymurphy victims – which included a Catholic priest and mother of eight – to see if scientific advances could shed further light on the circumstances of their deaths.

While soldiers from the parachute regiment were involved in both Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday, different battalions were deployed in each city. But relatives believe there was still a significant possibility of overlap.

Last month, the British government rejected calls for a probe into the events in Ballymurphy, insisting it was not in the public interest. The new inquest was ordered by Northern Ireland’s Attorney General John Larkin in 2011. – (PA)