Ballymurphy inquest findings to be published in Belfast in May

Inquests examined deaths of 10 civilians in west Belfast after 1971 introduction of internment without trial

From left: Ciaran O’Cruadhlaoic, Pat Quinn, Patsy Mullan and Geraldine McGratten pictured in March 2020 at an inquest hearing at Belfast coroner’s court into the killing of 10 people, including their relatives Frank Quinn and Fr Hugh Mullan, in west Belfast in August 1971. Photograph: Rebecca Black/PA

From left: Ciaran O’Cruadhlaoic, Pat Quinn, Patsy Mullan and Geraldine McGratten pictured in March 2020 at an inquest hearing at Belfast coroner’s court into the killing of 10 people, including their relatives Frank Quinn and Fr Hugh Mullan, in west Belfast in August 1971. Photograph: Rebecca Black/PA

 

The findings of the inquests into the deaths of 10 people in Ballymurphy in west Belfast in 1971 will be published in May.

The Coroner Mrs Justice Keegan announced on Friday that she would deliver her findings in Belfast on May 11th.

The inquests examined the deaths of 10 civilians in the Ballymurphy area of the city in the days immediately following the introduction of internment without trial on August 9th, 1971.

They included a mother of eight, Joan Connolly, and parish priest Fr Hugh Mullan, who was shot as he went to help one of the injured.

Original inquests in 1972 returned an open verdict in each case, and in 2011 the North’s Attorney General ordered fresh inquests following requests by the families of the victims.

The scope of the inquests included an examination of the purpose, planning and control of the British army operation which was taking place in Ballymurphy at the time, the use of lethal force during that operation, and the extent of public disorder and paramilitary activity in the area.

The inquests opened at Belfast Coroner’s Court in November 2018 and concluded in March 2020 after hearing more than 100 days of evidence.

Eye witnesses, forensic experts, former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and more than 60 former soldiers - including the former head of the British army General Sir Mike Jackson - were among those who gave evidence.

The families of those killed contend their loved ones were innocent, unarmed civilians who were shot by soldiers without justification. Barristers for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) argued the soldiers from the Parachute Regiment only ever opened fire when they perceived they were under threat.

In a statement the relatives of those killed welcomed the announcement by Mrs Justice Keegan, saying that it was apt the findings would be published on the 50th anniversary of their deaths but noting that it had been a “long and difficult road” and many family members, campaigners and eyewitnesses “did not live to see this day”.

John Teggart, whose father Danny was among the victims, said he had “grown up searching for answers as to why my daddy was murdered.

“Families have worked very hard to get to this stage when we will see the results of the many years of campaigning for truth.

“We have confidence that the coroner’s findings will vindicate our loved one’s innocence,” he said.

Additional reporting - PA.